Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom’s high-end cameras are fueled by a beastly battery

Why it matters to you

The Asus ZenFone Zoom 2 was a stunner of a midrange smartphone. Asus will follow it up with the ZenFone Zoom 3, a smartphone with a top-of-the-line camera, massive battery, and shooting modes out the wazoo.

The Asus ZenFone Zoom 2 was a stunner of a midrange smartphone. It featured 3x optical zoom, great low-light camera performance, and an excellent battery life to boot. The latest addition to the Taipei, Taiwan-based company’s Zoom series continues in the original’s tradition. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, Asus took the wraps off the ZenFone Zoom 3, a smartphone with a top-of-the-line camera, massive battery, and shooting modes out the wazoo. Unfortunately, it’s now being delayed until the second quarter of 2017.

Impressive cameras

The ZenFone 3 Zoom, true to its namesake, features a dual-camera system capable of high degrees of optical zoom. It comprises a 12-megapixel camera with a f/1.7 aperture, a 25mm wide-angle lens, and a secondary 12-megapixel, 56mm camera that handles macro shots as close as 3.94 inches. The rig’s capable of up to 2.3x optical zoom, Asus says, and a new shooting mode called Portrait similar to the iPhone 7s’s “bokeh” mode: backgrounds of photos are softly blurred as subjects are brought to the fore.

A manual shooting mode exposes most of ZenFone’s toggles to intrepid photographers. Settings like white balance, exposure values, focus, ISO, and shutter speed are adjustable. And a Full Manual mode allows the user to override the phone’s automatic camera selection and chose from either the 25mm, f/1.7 lens of the main camera or the 56mm lens of the zoom camera.

More: Asus unveils the ZenFone AR, the world’s slimmest Tango smartphone

Autofocus is drastically improved on the ZenFone 3 Zoom too, thanks to a new solution that Asus calls TriTech+. Two phase-detection sensors on the ZenFone 3 Zoom’s camera pixels analyze the variations in light rays hitting the sensors and, in tandem with the other 12 million pixels on the ZenFone 3 Zoom’s sensor, focus continuously on subjects. The trifecta’s final bit, a second-generation laser focus technology with three times the range of comparable implementations on the market, helps the ZenFone 3 Zoom’s achieve a focus time of just 0.03 seconds.

The ZenFone 3 Zoom’s other photographic innovation is what Asus calls the SuperPixel, a technology that increases light sensitivity “dramatically” compared to the average smartphone. A 1.4-micron pixel size augments the camera’s dim-environment performance and reduces graininess, and a Sony IMX362 image sensor lets in more light.

The ZenFone 3 Zoom’s other camera touches are no less impressive. Four-axis optical image stabilization and three-axis electronic image stabilization minimizes shakiness and blurriness. A color-correction sensor automatically adjusts the photo pallets to look “natural” and “accurate.” And the phones’s front camera, not to be outdone by the dual-camera tech, sports a 13-megapixel lens and “screenflash,” a mode that uses the ZenFone’s display as a flash.

More: Asus goes compact with powerful VivoPC X gaming system

Finally, the ZenFone 3 Zoom’s shooters features three new modes: Super Resolution, 3MP Enhanced Low Light; and HDR. Super Resolution stitches four 12-megapixel photos to create a single image. Low Light mode combines four adjacent pixels to work as a single pixel that shoots better in low-light conditions and prevents blurring. And HDR mode layers an overexposed image atop an underexposed image to enhance details.

Hardware

The ZenFone 3 Zoom’s innovations don’t end with high-tech cameras. The handset boasts a sandblasted aluminum-alloy body that measures 0.31-inches thin and 0.37 lbs in weight, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display shielded by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5.

If there’s an undisputed hardware highlight, though, it’s the ZenFone 3 Zoom’s battery. The 5,000mAh cell has “one of the highest capacities of any smartphone,” Asus contends, and the largest in a smartphone of the Zoom’s thinness and lightness. And it features a unique reverse-charging capability that automatically juices plugged-in devices.

An Asus representative initially said the ZenFone 3 Zoom would be available in February 2017, but according to the company’s Facebook page, the phone was delayed until the second quarter. Asus will improve the phone’s specifications for its U.S. launch but did not say what would be changed. Either way, expect the ZenFone 3 Zoom to sell for $400 when it becomes available.

Updated on 02-24-2017 by Williams Pelegrin: Added information regarding the ZenFone 3 Zoom’s delay and pricing information.

New to Snapchat? Follow our guide and go from newbie to pro

Snapchat is a popular photo-messaging app that allows you to take photos, record videos, add drawings, and send them to your friends. When a friend receives a photo or video message, known as a “snap,” it appears for a few seconds — 10 at most — and then it’s permanently deleted. Whether you’re a Snapchat veteran or a complete newbie, our guide will you get started with the platform and run you through some of the app’s more integral features, whether you’re looking to create a story or quickly reimburse a friend for that Naked Chicken Chalupa.

More: 21 Instagram tips and tricks you can’t afford to miss

Getting started with Snapchat

To get started with Snapchat, you’ll need to download the app from the App Store or Google Play. Once the app is installed, tap the Snapchat icon to open it. Tap Sign Up, enter your email address, and then tap password and enter a secure password. Next, you’ll need to choose your username, which will be your identity on Snapchat. Make sure it’s something that you’ll be able to remember, because you won’t be able to change your username after you set it.

Keep in mind: In order to use Snapchat, you need to be at least 13 years old. If you aren’t, you’ll be re-directed to a restricted version of Snapchat called Snapkidz.

From there, you’ll need to do a few more things before you start snapping.

Adjust your settings

Before you start using Snapchat, make sure you take a look at your settings by tapping on the red square that is located at the bottom right-hand corner of your camera screen. Then, tap the gear icon in the top-right hand corner. This is where you can also update your personal information, including who can send you snaps and view your Stories.

Find and add friends

To add friends on Snapchat, tap “My Contacts” on your Profile screen. All of your contacts with Snapchat accounts will then be displayed, along with friends who don’t have Snapchat. If one of your friends doesn’t have Snapchat, you can send them an invite via SMS. When a friend adds you, the ghost icon at the top of your Camera screen will turn yellow. To add a friend who has added you, tap “Added Me” on your Profile screen.

Create your first snap

When you open up Snapchat, it automatically activates your phone’s camera, and it’s pretty easy to use. You can easily adjust the focus of the camera, by tapping anywhere on the screen. To switch from rear camera to front camera, tap the camera icon in the upper-right corner. To turn on the flash, tap the lightning symbol at the top-left hand corner. To snap a photo, tap the circle at the bottom of the screen. To take a video, tap and hold the circle at the bottom of the screen. With Snapchat, you can only record videos up to 10 seconds long.

Wireless Apple CarPlay will finally come to more cars

Apple’s CarPlay in-vehicle infotainment system has been around since 2014 — and since then, it’s been tethered to car dashboards by a Lightning connection like any another anonymous AUX cord.  

It’s not for any lack of trying on Apple’s part — the company announced an update for wireless CarPlay almost two years ago at the 2015 Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). Problem is, the makers of the infotainment systems included in most new cars have been slow to integrate the wireless capability into their interfaces.  

The first domino has fallen, however, as car infotainment giant Harman announced its products will support wireless CarPlay, claiming to be the first in its industry with the capability. The company has  partnerships with automakers like Chrysler, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jeep, Toyota and more, so a whole range of future car models could wind up with the tech. 

Harman’s announcement claims the first cars to have the wireless CarPlay systems are from a “luxury German automaker,” which The Verge confirms to be BMW, as the cord-free CarPlay first surfaced in the 2017 5 Series. More makes and models will presumably be given the CarPlay systems going forward.   

In addition to Harman, Alpine Electronics claims to have cracked the wireless CarPlay code and started offering the capability in its iLX-107 aftermarket infotainment systems for select vehicles this month.  

Creepy new browser-tracking technique means there’s nowhere left for you to hide

Cross-browser fingerprinting is sadly now a thing.
Cross-browser fingerprinting is sadly now a thing.

Image: Shutterstock / jijomathaidesigners

These days, everyone on the internet already knows if you’re a dog. Thanks to a newly developed tracking technique, they may soon know even more. 

Pennsylvania-based computer science professor Yinzhi Cao just unveiled a method that IEEE Spectrum reports makes “fingerprinting” across multiple web browsers possible — with a striking degree of accuracy. That means anyone looking to follow you around the internet — advertisers, credit card companies, or websites — can now do so even if you habitually switch from Firefox to Chrome to Safari. 

Browser fingerprinting works by identifying a set of characteristics unique to a computer’s hardware and software, using that information to create a “fingerprint” for the system in question. You may not realize it, but everything from your installed fonts to your screen resolution combines to form a profile of you that is identifiable approximately 91 percent of the time. 

This tracking technique used to be defeated by switching browsers. Hop off of Firefox and onto Safari and you were good to go. That defense no longer works with Cao’s new approach, although it is unclear if anyone is using it yet.

What’s worse, a 99-percent success rate means his method is even more accurate than the old single-browser approach.

Would trading laptops help?

Would trading laptops help?

Image: Patrick Lux/Getty Images

“From the negative perspective, people can use our cross-browser tracking to violate users’ privacy by providing customized ads,” Cao told Ars Technica. “Our work makes the scenario even worse, because after the user switches browsers, the ads company can still recognize the user. In order to defeat the privacy violation, we believe that we need to know our enemy well.” 

Fortunately for the aforementioned enemy, Cao has published the code online. That’s not entirely a bad thing, however: Knowing how it works also allows computer scientists to attempt some sort of defense. 

And how does it work? The short answer is that it’s complicated. “Specifically, our approach utilizes many novel OS and hardware level features, such as those from graphics cards, CPU, and installed writing scripts,” the paper reads. “We extract these features by asking browsers to perform tasks that rely on corresponding OS and hardware functionalities.”

Thirty-six tasks, to be precise. These take under a minute to run, and were found to successfully work on many major browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. 

But all is not lost for the privacy-concerned, as this stab at cross-browser fingerprinting is not foolproof. 

As with so many things on the internet, the solution is straightforward: Use Tor

ACLU launches website for anyone that wants to join the resistance

PeoplePower.org will offer “digital tools” to help people protest.

Image: Roberto Machado Noa/REX/Shutterstock

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) saw a flood of donations as Americans took up the resistance to Donald Trump just weeks into his presidency. Now, it’s trying to put some of that money towards helping everyday Americans who are fighting Trump policies on the ground.

The organisation has launched PeoplePower.org, a website where individuals can find “digital tools” to protest and take part in the grassroots efforts to stand up for Americans’ rights and make sure the current presidency doesn’t step on those rights.

 “The ACLU will continue to challenge President Trump’s unconstitutional actions in court and with PeoplePower.org, we will take that fight to the streets,” Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, said in a statement. 

To kick off this fight for rights “in the streets,” the ACLU will host a “resistance training” townhall in Miami, Florida on March 11. It’s also calling its members nationwide to organize local demonstrations through an email that went out on Friday. 

<img class="" data-credit-name="courtesy of peoplepower.org” data-credit-provider=”custom type” src=”http://techio.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/aclu-launches-website-for-anyone-that-wants-to-join-the-resistance.png” data-fragment=”m!ee53″ data-image=”http://i.amz.mshcdn.com/jhxJeRTvcNjuh3rRe-5sAhYAOjc=/https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F394920%2F4f60aaac-8076-49a4-9685-78d880325dd3.png” data-micro=”1″/>

This marks something of a departure from the organization’s previous efforts to protect civil rights, in which it’s played more of a formal, legal role. Attorneys with the ACLU have been behind a number of legal cases advocating the rights of Americans in Trump’s America, such as lawsuits filed against Trump for his immigration ban that was ultimately struck down by a federal appeals court.

“We are in the fight of our lives right now, and what we have learned since Donald Trump’s inauguration is that there is a growing army of people out there who want to be asked to do something big and important in response,” Romero said in a statement.

The new effort brings together a number of activist groups, “experienced digital organizers” who have worked at the White House and the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

This app wants to warn undocumented immigrants of raids in Trump’s America

Just 24 days into Donald Trump’s presidency, more than 680 undocumented immigrants were forced to leave the country in a series of mass raids. That’s an average of about 28 people each day.

Now, 27-year-old web developer and designer Celso Mireles, once an undocumented immigrant himself, is developing an open source app that will show people exactly when and where these raids are happening, as Vice‘s Motherboard reports.

While still in the development phase, RedadAlertas (or “raid alerts”) plans to give verified, secure information about when the government sends in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to round people up.

The sudden immigration raids under Trump have put undocumented immigrant communities on high alert in major U.S. cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York. Some of these people have switched up their daily routines to avoid being found, from signing legal documents asking family and friends to pick up their kids from school to carrying around “Know Your Rights” guides in Spanish and English that explain what to do if they’re in a raid, Time reports

RedadAlertas hopes to crowdsource information about immigration raids to help these people. Once it’s determined a raid is happening, subscribers are expected to receive an alert about it in real-time, with the app using their geolocation or zip code to tell them about the raid closest to them.

But making that process happen is no easy task. The app faces the threat of anti-immigrant trolls deliberately misleading people with false information. So Mireles has some safeguards he expects will prevent such problems.

<img class="" data-credit-name="ALEJANDO BRINGAS/EPA/REX/Shutterstock
” data-credit-provider=”custom type” data-caption=”In late January, hundreds of undocumented Mexican immigrants met with their relatives along the U.S.-Mexico border in a show of unity to Trump.” title=”In late January, hundreds of undocumented Mexican immigrants met with their relatives along the U.S.-Mexico border in a show of unity to Trump.” src=”http://techio.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/this-app-wants-to-warn-undocumented-immigrants-of-raids-in-trumps-america.jpg” alt=”In late January, hundreds of undocumented Mexican immigrants met with their relatives along the U.S.-Mexico border in a show of unity to Trump.” data-fragment=”m!8582″ data-image=”http://i.amz.mshcdn.com/btxsmPXANYYJLrA9YpK91tG6McY=/https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F394912%2F5a01b3c9-ee75-410f-9389-d9af0bacdad4.jpg” data-micro=”1″/>

In late January, hundreds of undocumented Mexican immigrants met with their relatives along the U.S.-Mexico border in a show of unity to Trump.

Image: ALEJANDO BRINGAS/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

“The process is to crowdsource information [on raids] and verify it,” he told Motherboard. “If someone reports a raid, there has to be multiple verifications. Organizers from the immigrant community want to defend against trolls. Then the system will know and send a message to everyone in 10 to 20 mile radius.”

In collecting this information, Mireles has reached out to immigration advocacy groups, computer coders and anyone else who can offer help. He’s already attracted the help of techies like Yosem Companys, who worked on Stanford University’s “Liberation Tech” efforts using tech to “promote democracy, development, freedom, and human rights around the world.”

Mireles expects to have two types of people using the app — those who subscribe for alerts and those who report and verify raids, as he explained on a FAQ page where people can find information about joining the project. Types of raids include those happening at home, work or at traffic checkpoints. For now, the app is in Spanish and English but Mireles hopes to include other languages as more people join the project.

The app will be selective with the raids it flags to avoid unnecessary anxiety. “Only work raids and traffic checkpoints will be sent as alerts to people nearby,” Mireles wrote on the FAQ page. “This is because there is little value in sending info about a home raid nearby, and serves more to spread fear.”

Still, there are also concerns about the U.S. government potentially looking to the app’s users as a database of the people it plans to deport.

In order to protect the identities of users, Mireles has said the app would require only a phone number and two-step authentication verification rather than a password. While personal identities can still potentially be tracked by phone number, he hopes this very minimal amount of personal information will keep users’ identities safely anonymous.

Mireles first developed the app during the Obama administration, when the last president deported 3 million undocumented immigrants. In fact, the name of the app used to be Redadas de Obama, or “Obama’s Raids.” He’s now just reviving the project, and bringing it to full scale as the threat of mass deportations under Trump stokes the fears and anxieties of American immigrants nationwide.

Obama’s policies targeted immigrants with a record of a felony or serious misdemeanor such as drunk driving or dealing drugs (or three lesser misdemeanors). It also deported people who had come into the country illegally any time after January 1, 2014, as NBC News reports. Trump’s heavy-handed policy plans go beyond that.

His executive orders would authorize the arrest and removal of people who are convicted, or even just charged, with a crime. People can also be deported for having “committed a chargeable criminal offense,” such as driving without a license or illegal entry.

The crackdown has been met with widespread fear in the communities it targets, such as when a 35-year-old mother named Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported during a routine check-in with ICE. She had used a fake social security number for a job, and was arrested and deported for criminal impersonation — an event that sent her name trending across Twitter.

“The truth is I was there [in the United States] for my children,” she later said at a news conference from Mexico. “For a better future. To work for them. And I don’t regret it, because I did it for love.”

Lock it down: Samsung brings encrypted folder support to Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Why it matters to you

Samsung’s Secure Folder makes encrypting sensitive content on your smartphone easier than ever, and adds critical features for locking apps and accounts behind an added layer of security.

We store our entire lives on our smartphones, and at one point or another, every user has sensitive content on their device they’d rather keep private from prying eyes. That’s surprisingly hard to do on Android or iOS without a third-party app, as neither platform gives users the ability to create encrypted storage spaces out of the box. Fortunately, Samsung is bucking that trend by launching Secure Folder support for its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones.

Secure Folders actually debuted on last year’s Galaxy Note 7, though, regrettably, not many owners got the chance to become well-acquainted with the feature. That’s changing now that Samsung has released a downloadable version through its Galaxy Apps store. Secure Folders pretty much accomplish exactly what you’d imagine they would, allowing users to lock images, documents, and even apps behind a form of authentication, be it a PIN, password, pattern, or fingerprint.

More: Samsung Galaxy S8 rumors and news leaks

What differentiates Secure Folder from other solutions, however, is that it can actually be used to store copies of apps with their own unique data, sandboxed from the rest of the phone. For example, a user could copy Twitter to a Secure Folder, and use that copy of the app for a separate account that wouldn’t be accessible from the original app on the home screen. As Samsung notes in its Newsroom post, “any notes, photos, contacts or browsing history within the apps stored in Secure Folder will remain separate from the same apps outside Secure Folder.”

That is a useful, powerful addition that is sure to please users managing high-risk information on their phones every day, made better by the fact that Secure Folders also support Samsung’s cloud-based backup and restore functionality. These backups remain isolated from the phone’s other general backup files, and are tied to a single Samsung account.

Finally, Samsung points out that Secure Folders can be customized with different names and icons to make them less conspicuous, or be hidden from the Apps screen entirely. Secure Folder is currently only compatible with Galaxy S7 devices running Android 7.0, though Samsung says it expects to bring the app to more of its phones in the future.

Ahead of MWC 2017, LG looks to take the battery life crown with the X Power 2

Why it matters to you

The LG X Power 2 might not be for Android purists, but those looking for a phone with remarkable battery life might want to take a hard look.

With Mobile World Congress right around the corner, LG is primarily focused on its upcoming G6 after the G5 was regarded as a financial disappointment for the company. That does not mean LG has nothing else up its sleeve, however, as the company announced the X Power 2 ahead of the mobile-centric conference.

As alluded to in its name, the X Power 2’s raison d’être is its enormous 4,500mAh battery, a nice bump from the original’s 4,100mAh power pack. LG claims the X Power 2 can survive 15 hours of continuous video playback, 14 hours of GPS navigation, and 18 hours of web browsing. The company even boasts that the phone was designed to last an entire weekend without the need to recharge. When it comes time for that, the X Power 2 will go from 0 to 50 percent in an hour, while a full recharge will take around two hours.

More: LG’s K series budget phones run Android 7.0 Nougat

On the outside, the X Power 2 features a 5-megapixel camera above its 5.5-inch, 1,280 x 720 resolution display, while a 13MP shooter sits around back. The display might seem like the same dull panel found on the original, but LG looks to have integrated the digitizer with the screen for improved colors and viewing angles. The company also improved the display’s outdoor visibility and baked a blue light filter into the software.

Speaking of which, the X Power 2 runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, something the original X Power still cannot say. An unnamed 1.5GHz octa-core processor and either 1.5GB or 2GB RAM run the show, with the 16GB of native storage augmented through the MicroSD card slot that takes up to 2TB cards.

When Digital Trends’ Ted Kritsonis took a look at the original X Power, there was not much to really enjoy apart from its battery life and low price. Hopefully, the same will not be said of the X Power 2 when it becomes available in Latin America in March, with the U.S., Asia, Europe, and other regions to follow. Before its launch, however, the X Power 2 will be shown off during MWC 2017 in Barcelona next week.

Hackers didn’t lock you out of your Facebook account. Facebook did.

Yeah, it was the company's fault.
Yeah, it was the company’s fault.

Image: Sean Gallup /Getty Images

No, it wasn’t the Russians. 

A number of Facebook users today reported being randomly locked out of their accounts, and some immediately feared the worst. Was this proof of hackers looking to steal precious vacation photos? Or maybe evidence of Big Brother at work?

Nah.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the culprit behind today’s lockout was in fact … Facebook. 

“Earlier today an error in one of our systems designed to help prevent suspicious account access sent a small set of people to our account recovery flow unnecessarily,” explained the spokesperson. “We have fixed the issue and are in the process of clearing the affected accounts from this recovery flow.”

Facebook was quick to assure us that the problem was a technical error on the company’s end, and did not represent a security threat for the users who were suddenly locked out. It’s all good, in other words. 

As to how many accounts were affected? Facecbook couldn’t say. “We apologize for any inconvenience,” the spokesperson added.

Thankfully, the company did clarify that this latest headache is entirely unrelated to the ongoing Cloudflare disaster. At least there’s that. 

So, what to do if you were one of the users who was locked out? You can either follow the Facebook prompts and reset your password, or, if you’re so inclined, do nothing. The issue will resolve by itself and you can go back to posting TRAPPIST-1 jokes.

DARTdrones pitches Shark Tank to build a flight school for drone pilots


Entrepreneurs who pitch on ABC’s Shark Tank typically make packaged goods and apparel. Occasionally, the high tech breaks through. XCraft, the company behind the PhoneDrone Ethos, scored a rare investment from all of the judges on the ABC show last spring, for example. And tonight, drones are once again flying “in the Tank” as DARTdrones seeks funding to build its national flight school for drone pilots.

DARTdrones CEO, Abby Speicher, started the company while she was getting her MBA at Babson College. She was already thinking about forming a startup, she recalls, when she saw Jeff Bezos talking up the aerial future of package delivery on CBS’ 60 Minutes. “I immediately wanted to go out and learn how to fly these things. But after weeks and months of calling around, I realized there wasn’t anywhere to go to learn,” the CEO said.

Based in Scranton, Penn., DARTdrones now employs 11 full-time and has more than 40 professional aviators and drone operators working as instructors on-contract around the country. Seasoned pilots, they train everyone from hobbyists, to professional photographers, fire fighters and police officers, in how to safely use drones for fun and work.

While DARTdrones started out targeting consumers, including lots of kids and parents wanting to learn to fly drones for fun, it has shifted to focus on training and consulting for government offices and medium to large employers. Businesses are increasingly incorporating drones into their work, for example to conduct inspections of energy infrastructure or real estate, to gather video for media use, or to do environmental research.

abby_speicher_dartdrones

Speicher said the shift was planned, not a “pivot.” Her company was waiting to do more commercial and industrial training, but had to wait for the FAA to establish its Part 107 regulations, which it did last year. These allow and govern how people are able to fly drones legally for business purposes in the US.

DARTdrones’ Director of Training, Amelia Owre, is a U.S. Navy aviator who previously created the training programs for the FireScout, one of their unmanned aerial systems. She said DARTdrones’ course offering now includes 5 open enrollment courses, and dozens of others for commercial and industrial drone use that are industry-specific and conducted in the field. She is particularly proud of the work that DARTdrones is doing with law enforcement and firefighters, she said.

Will DARTdrones still be in business if drones become fully autonomous? Yes, Owre said: “If you are going to use a drone as a firefighter, you need to know exactly when it will be useful, and how to gather and use data pulled from the drones. It’s imperative you have the training to know when and how to fly. Flying over a fire at certain times could just introduce chaos,” she said, “or you may end up with no good data from your mission.”

DARTdrones courses open to the public include in-person trainings to learn to fly the popular DJI Phantom and Inspire drones; a Part 107 test prep course, which is offered either online only or in-person for a full day; and an online aerial photography course. The company also sells a “bundle” of all these courses for a discounted rate.

And it created an introductory online course, “Drones for Beginners,” just for their pitch at Shark Tank. It becomes available to the public tonight concurrent with the episode airing on ABC at 9:00 p.m. eastern tonight. The introductory course costs about $20.

So far, the company’s customers have included employees of the FBI, CNN, the NFL’s Chicago Bears and the New York Times, Speicher said. The company has an early lead in the market, but to be sure, more online and offline flight schools and consultancies have opened up since the Federal Aviation Administration put the Part 107 rules in place last August. One big competitor for general drone knowledge and Part 107 test prep is Fly-Robotics, whose courses are promoted by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). But for now, DARTdrones offline courses are available in more markets than any other US flight school, Speicher said.

Speicher and Owre were not permitted to discuss the results of their pitch with TechCrunch until after their Shark Tank episode airs. We will update our post after it does.

Featured Image: ABC/Michael Desmond/2016 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. UNDER A 2016 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. LICENSE