Drone detector alerts you to neighbourhood spies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:26am

Privacy is going to be more difficult to protect than ever in the drone-filled age.

Competitors, thieves, or even just your neighbours could be spying on your every move using a remote-controlled flying camera.

That's the kind of paranoia Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) is hoping to tap into with its new personal drone detection system Kickstarter project - a black box that promises to go beep when a drone flies within 15 metres of its sensors.

"Drones are becoming more capable all the time and this is why it's alarming. They fly with payloads like still cameras, video cameras, infrared detectors, thermal detectors, among other things, and they are already being used for surveillance," DDC founder Amy Ciesielka said.

"Though there are legitimate uses for domestic drones, there is still concern about invasion of privacy and surveillance by various entities."

In the UK it is illegal to fly a drone within 50 metres of a structure even for recreation, while commercial use of drones has to be cleared by the Civil Aviation Authority.

But in the US personal drones are not regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and can be flown around buildings and built-up areas.

In Hong Kong, all drone flights require approval from the Civil Aviation Department, but enthusiasts have been known to skirt laws with small hobby drones.

DDC has been working on the technology for more than a year and promises to warn users of personal drone snooping before it's too late. The kit cannot detect military drones as "they fly too high and are too sophisticated", according to the company.

The kit consists of three boxes - a primary command and control unit that connects via Wi-fi to the internet, and two sensors that are placed about the home.

If a drone is detected, the command and control unit sends a notification to the user's smartphone, tablet or computer, even while the user is away from home. The kit does not promise to actually block the drone's invasion of privacy, yet.

In April, Robert Knowles became the first person convicted in the UK for "dangerously" flying a drone.

A starter kit costs US$499 on Kickstarter, but as ever with crowd-funded projects, the system may not come to fruition.