28/07/2014 12:58 BST | Updated 27/09/2014 06:59 BST

From Drones to Building Anderson Shelters in Minecraft

From Drones to building Anderson shelters in Minecraft, Dave Wallace explains why playful technology appeals to the children in us.


This is a family picture of us, but not on the beach in Cornwall or picnicking in the park. No, this is our first 'Dronie' - a pic taken by a drone. A robot-powered zoom out selfie - what's not to love?

We had the chance to fly a Drone and it was a great success, especially with my kids. They loved the little helicopter - which is about a foot in diameter - and built from parts by my friend Simon.

Installed with an incredibly robust GPS and carbon fibre blades, we were very impressed, although with the fiddly switches, it is much trickier to fly than you might think. We were just testing it out in the garden, not at a great height but the potential shone through. There was an article in Newsweek asking 'Are Unmanned Drones the Future of Global Transport?' As a result of our experience, it would be a yes from the Wallace's.

Newsweek identified that there will be 78 companies displaying Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAVs) technologies at Farnborough this year compared to 22 at the 2012 show. Experts say that by 2022, annual spending on UAVs will jump from $6.6 billion to $11.4 billion.

It will certainly revolutionise the future of deliveries for companies such as Amazon - once clearance is given for them to take to the skies.

The plan is that a number of Drones would be kept in the back of a van and could then be released simultaneously to deliver packages across an area in the fraction of the time it would take the van driver. Such a sophisticated operation could also have positive environmental implications.

But there's a hell of a lot of regulation to get through first - much of it relating to safety and privacy.

For example, it will be crucial to ensure there is no chance they will collide with low flying aircraft - or anything else for that matter. You can imagine the headline: 'Drone crashed into child's buggy'.

Using Drones to shoot film offers the possibility of capturing some incredible and revealing aerial footage - but as with Google Street View there are potential privacy implications that must be given proper consideration.

Nonetheless, UAVs - especially 3D printed ones - could become a cheap transport option for us soon.

What was also interesting was seeing how my kids reacted to the Drones. They loved it - and thought it was the most natural thing ever. In their lives, seemingly outlandish technology has been normalised.

Technology is fun. Technology is largely driven by grown men who played Sonic the Hedgehog as children and now create new, playful forms of technology. The iPad has a much younger audience than intended and Drones may also hold a fascination for children.

I wonder if my family are reaching saturation point with trying to have fun with technology? The answer, I think, is no. They can't get enough.

My son has to build an Anderson shelter in Minecraft - complete with a simulated air raid siren - for a school project. His other Minecraft projects include building a stadium in Brazil following the World Cup. Taking Dronies, like Minecraft, appeals to the child in all of us. And anything that helps us feel like Peter Pan is sure to prove a hit.