By Kevin Raber – QForce Special Projects
QForce, Airborne Division of QCommunications, recently had the privilege of joining the OConsortium Technology Tour demonstrating advanced TV broadcast technologies at various stops along the East Coast. The OConsortium is a group of broadcasters, vendors, and service providers that have come together to collaborate on integrating their various platforms and capabilities to advance the education and development of new broadcast technology solutions for the betterment of the entire industry.
QForce Special Projects joined the incredibly capable OConsortium van as a technology demonstration partner during the Phase 1 East Coast tour. The van, designed by an industry-leading team of experts and assembled by Accelerated Media, showed off a variety of cutting-edge technologies at each stop of the tour. This incredible suite of technologies allowed the OConsortium to show glass-to-glass capability to capture, produce, and broadcast television using IP-based production and advanced automation. Many of these technologies had never been integrated and demonstrated in a single platform before, including MAM, ATSC 3.0 integration, remote production capabilities, IP mesh networking, and the integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) in both inspections and live broadcasting.
Throughout the weeks on the tour, QForce personnel were able to meet with and consult numerous engineers from various stations and broadcast stakeholders, members of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), decision-makers spearheading the adoption of ATSC 3.0 at the ATSC conference in Washington DC, and executives from various entities in broadcast television. QForce not only provides a wide variety of UAS/drone services but also takes pride in helping to spearhead the integration of these amazing new tools across the industry through its consulting and advising services. These drones can provide not only a huge gain in capabilities for live broadcast and new ways of capturing news and events but also allow the collection of previously impossible to capture data, all while decreasing risk to personnel and equipment.
At a recent stop in Garner, NC, QForce had ideal conditions to demonstrate a full range of capabilities while on-site at the WRAL tower facility. These capabilities included a demonstration of newly upgraded thermal inspection missions in conjunction with the ability to generate a 3D digital model of the tower structure. With a whole suite of high-fidelity thermal sensors, QForce provides inspections and assessments to judge line loss and resistance along transmission lines, solar cell health, structural issues, and nitrogen coolant leaks for the entire height of the tower. The value of this data is not simply in the immediate presentation and visual representation available almost instantly to an engineer, but also in the embedded metadata that allows the QForce team to analyze and extract more information from the gathered material.
One of the newest capabilities on display throughout the tour is the ability to integrate live drone broadcasting not just to an engineering team off-site, but also as HD video back to the production team for live news and event coverage. Using some of the best sensors on the market the QForce team can conduct drone support missions and train existing teams to provide responsive and comprehensive event coverage. As many saw during the recent summer Olympics, this footage opens up an entirely new perspective and capability for a broadcast team. While the footage can be quite dramatic, it can also require extensive training and be difficult to know if you have the right tool for the job. In short order, the ability to provide responsive and safe aerial coverage will be instrumental for any news or live television coverage.
QCommunications looks forward to future support and collaboration with the OConsortium and is eager to provide integration of even more expansive capabilities through our newest industry partnerships. QForce remains at the forefront of employing drones in support of critical infrastructure and across the entire spectrum of mass communication entities. Whether it is our long-term tried and true capability to map and analyze the RF spectrum of a broadcast or cellular facility, or our newest work in support of the ATSC 3.0 expansion and tether vehicle-mounted drones, QForce continues to lead the field in the drone service industry.