Saturday, August 1, 2015

Senior Uses for Drones

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that prisoners are using drones to bring packages to them in jail. The flying delivery service is carrying more than letters; it’s smuggling cell phones, drugs and other contraband. Exactly how these airborne critters get past prison surveillance wasn’t disclosed, but considering what happened on the grounds of the nation’s Capitol, it can’t be very difficult.

More recently, hobbyists have hampered wildfire fighters in California by flying UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) overhead to get dramatic photos. This presents a danger to the pilots who dump chemicals on those flames. A more controlled use of drones can be an asset in fighting those fires. They’re able to fly closer than planes and can use infrared technology to identify the worst hot spots—the priority places to unload the chemicals.

Let’s face it; UAVs will become far more common tools in our future. The costs are coming down and they’re becoming more user-friendly. It stands to reason that seniors should give some thought to how this equipment can be used on a daily basis. Before we know it, they’ll be a must-have status symbol even for folks our age, so I’ve started making a list of things drones can do for us.

Marry them with the afore-mentioned infrared technology and you have an invaluable tool to tell you where your spouse is. He might be asleep somewhere or he just can’t hear you. But what if he’s lost (in thought?) An aerial search can save you from having to go up and down all the stairs and around the yard. Ours has a sloping back lawn with treacherous footing. It’s not likely my husband would be out there, but others of you might have more agile spouses who tend to wander off.

Staying with the outdoors, how about some help with hard-to-reach and repetitive yard work? There are always areas on the tops and backs of bushes and small trees that are difficult to trim. Plus my forearms start to shake from the strain of all that opening and closing (for the fine pruning) or the lifting of the electric hedge clipper.

Most of that work is now handled by our condo association, but there are other tedious chores that an airborne friend could help with. Like watering all the plants on the deck and around the perimeter of the house. The deck gets so much direct sun that I sometimes have to water the herb garden twice a day, making multiple trips per watering. One time I foolishly did this barefoot and burned the bottoms of my feet.

Another helpful drone use is chasing the cat or dog out from under the bed. Most family pets are savvy about approaching medication or nail clippers. Ours always managed to get into that “sweet” spot right in the middle of the floor under our king size bed. That meant getting a broom or other long-handled item to force them out. It also required the other spouse to be crouched on the opposite side of the bed to catch them when they ran. With a UAV, this could become a single-person job, and a lot more fun.

I recently bought a special device to change the bulbs in those recessed lights that are popular in condominiums. Its handle is long enough to chase a cat out from under a bed, but I still need a step stool to reach most of the lights. A flying assistant would be a safer way to accomplish this.

For similar reasons of safety (and outright laziness), the blades on our ceiling fans have so much dust that some of it floats off when the fan is on high speed. If I had a remote gizmo that could hold one of those microfiber dust wands, our condo would be a lot cleaner. And I could cut back on allergy meds.

Continuing with being out of reach, let’s talk about dying my gray roots. No matter how much I work at it, I always have some spots at the back of my head that didn’t get covered with enough goop. Occasionally, I’ll have my husband check my coverage, but that’s not always an option. If I had an aerial helper to hold a mirror behind me, I’d wind up with less gray. Better yet, I could outfit Buzzy (I decided to name him) with latex gloves and train him to dye the back. Hallelujah!

I’m just scratching the surface of what Buzzy will be able to do for me. I’m sure you’ll find other uses for his services. Isn’t technology grand?

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