How I got 80% open rate in my email outreach campaign

achieving 80% email open rate

The suggestion that you could have 80% of your outreach read by recipients sounds like a pipedream — an astronomical figure designed to keep people plugging away on their outbox. 

With such a small canvas of visible information in a recipient’s inbox to work with, it can feel like enticing four out of every five targets to open your email is impossible.

But if you incorporate the right approaches, then it can very much become a reality. Just to give you the heads up, here’re some results we’ve managed to get in our recent outreach campaign:

In the following article, I’ve explored the ingredients needed to get 80% of your outreach messages viewed. So perhaps you’d like to pour yourself a coffee and brace yourself for an awful lot more audience interaction in the near future — the caffeine might come in handy.

Identify your targets

There are five key factors behind achieving a high open rate in your email outreach, and the first and most important is through identifying the right recipients.

A common mistake among many outreachers is their shotgun approach to distributing emails. While scattering mail across the internet into as many inboxes that can be sourced may seem like a good, time-saving and quantitative technique, it actually wastes more time that could be better invested in finding quality recipients.

Before a successful outreach campaign, you’ll need to dedicate some time to the preparation stage. Identify who your ideal responder would be, whether it’s a client, customer, consumer or collaborator, and work on devising a list of the perfect targets that fit the description.

Through the use of opt-ins and calls-to-action, you can have an interested recipient base come to you with minimal fuss and is a sure-fire approach to sending marketing emails to those most likely to view your content. By inviting your website’s visitors to subscribe to your mailing list via an effective call-to-action placed on your homepage, you get to save time on research and effortlessly come into possession of hundreds of emails – a great outreach method for websites that are in a position to offer a product or service to thousands of people.

For outreach emails with more link-building intentions sourcing becomes more difficult. If you’ve decided to target industry professionals and influencers, then tools like Email Hunter and Voila Norbert could be the answer — these services scour the internet for the relevant email addresses behind just about any active website and can help you hit the bulls-eye when it comes to finding the right people to get in contact with.

domain search for emails for search engine watch

Mastering the subject line

According to a poll conducted via Litmus, 34% of recipients believe that an email subject line is the most important factor in helping them to decide to open their mail. This means that over 1/3 of your targets for outreach will be waiting for a perfect heading before clicking on your message.

These stats illustrate how important it is to get your subject line right, and there are many schools of thought behind what’s most effective and what isn’t.

Of course, each subject line will vary depending on the type of outreach you conduct, but the best practice is to appeal to people’s curiosity, to make them believe they’ll be gaining something if they read your email – which of course they will if your campaign has been constructed well enough.

screenshot of how email outreach goes to "other" mailbox

A winning subject line needs to be short, personal wherever possible, and relevant to the topics covered by your email. Sometimes being upfront can be effective, especially when it comes to outreaching savvy marketers and bloggers.

There are a few other factors that can make all the difference in making your email stand out too. Incorporating emojis into your heading may risk your content appearing puerile, but with the vast catalogue of emojis that are more serious than a winking yellow circle with a tongue sticking out, you can really add some standout imagery and colour to your title. For example, travel companies have been using holiday-themed emojis like aeroplanes and city skylines to great effect in capturing the imagination of recipients — if you can find something relevant that appeals to the aesthetics of your email, then it could be a key addition to make.

With so many individuals checking their inboxes via their smartphones, keeping your subject lines short and punchy has never been more important — make sure you get your message across in less than 50 characters.

By adding an element of urgency to your headline, recipients will feel more compelled to check its contents. You can exercise this by adding a sense of limited-time opportunity to your subject, or by inviting them to respond before a deadline — the chances are that they’ll be curious as to what’s caused the urgency and read on.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your subject line too — this can be seen as a way of cutting to the chase and getting your message across immediately.

Making use of your preview snippets

Many inboxes have menus that not only feature an unread email’s subject line but a snippet of text from the beginning of a message. It’s important not to neglect the opening lines of your email because this could be a key factor in whether or not it gets read or moved to the ‘junk’ folder.

Litmus has stated that 24% of recipients check the text previews of emails, so it’s worth dedicating time to.

The most important part of nailing your email opening is personalization. Make sure it begins with ‘Dear, [Name]’ or ‘Hi [Name],’ where possible – any less than this will give off the strong impression that you’re simply using templates to scatter across the web (which may well be the case, but we don’t want them to know that).

An effective use of the preview snippet is to treat it like a secondary subject line, or to summarize the email in the first line – doing so could be the deciding factor while your target’s hovering over your message in their inbox. If you’re using an email marketing software, make sure to use these two rules in every template.

Keeping your sender reputation in check

You could have compiled the best list of targeted recipients, the best subject line and opening text, all for it to be undone by a sender score that’s so low that your email drops straight into the junk folder never to be seen again.

Email providers are designed to give their users the best experience. And part of that is through whittling down any perceived junk automatically by filtering out any messages from users with a low sender score.

A sender score is calculated by prior interactions, and how many users generally open your emails. A great website to check if your current email address passes most servers’ junk filters is to consult, which will let you know how your email is faring, and whether or not your messages will make it to the inboxes of your recipients.

sender score metrics for search engine watch

Effective follow-ups

Don’t be afraid to follow up on your emails. It can be easy to perceive the use of follow-ups as a nuisance or spammy, but in reality, a second email tends to work wonders in getting your content noticed.

example of a follow up email for email outreach

There are many reasons why recipients don’t read emails the first time around; it could’ve been received at a busy time in their day, or deleted by accident, or simply missed. Here, a follow-up offers your target a second chance to see your content and acknowledge your outreach.

Be sure to specify that your email is a follow-up – this shows that you’ve been in touch prior and clearly value the recipient’s attention. Also be sure to note when you sent your initial email for ease of reference.

While it’s worth sending more than one follow-up email to maximize your recipient’s chances to respond, we advise against mailing more than two chasers in order to limit the risk of being considered spam, or worse, being blacklisted.

Dmytro Spilka is Head Wiz at Solvid Digital. He can be found on Twitter at @spilkadi.

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Google’s rel=prev/next Messaging: Nothing Has Changed

Google keeps saying the same thing over and over again regarding their communication around the rel=prev/next blunder. Simply that nothing has changed, to do pagination just like you always have been doing and that is it.

To catch you all up, Google last week shocked the SEO and developer community when they said that they haven’t supported rel=prev/next for years. It turns out that Gary Illyes from Google discovered it and Google had to quickly tell the community that they don’t support it the way they have been telling SEOs for the past several years.

To be clear, Google did apologize saying “We apologize for any confusion. This was an oversight and something that we should have communicated proactively before taking down the documentation. As our systems improve over time, there may be instances where specific types of markup is not as critical as it once was, and we’re committed to providing guidance when changes are made.”

But their webmaster trends analyst team keep echoing the same message – and that is – “nothing has changed.” We posted the advice post rel=prev/next change and that basically says don’t change anything, keep doing what you are doing.

A new Reddit thread has the same story from John Mueller of Google. Here are some quotes:

There are other reasons to use link rel next/prev, it’s not just for Google; some browsers may use it, and it makes sense for accessibility reasons too. Definitely no need to take it out of pages.

No need to change anything in your pagination. If it’s worked for you in the last years, it’ll continue to work like that. Not supporting link-rel-next/prev doesn’t mean you need to remove pagination. Pagination existed before, and it’ll continue to exist going forward.

It doesn’t change anything, because it’s already been working like that for your site. If the site has been crawlable/indexable in the last year, it’s already shown that it’s crawlable/indexable without those link elements. Another nice part is that there’s less vagueness involved (what does the link element do here?), so you can also use a crawler of your own to check how the site is crawlable.

Definitely keep pagination.

Yep – the pages need to be able to stand on their own. There’s no change in that regard – if you want something indexed, put content on it so that it’s worthy of indexing, and useful for users who go there.

You can see – he keeps saying the same thing.

(1) Nothing has changed.

(2) Keep pagination the way you’ve been doing it.

(3) Keep rel=next/prev there.

(4) Make your content on each page stand on their own.

Nothing has changed but yet it feels like everything has changed. I know the community is still trying to figure out what to tell their clients. Do they implement a different strategy for paginated content? If so, which strategy. Do they keep it the same since Google said “nothing’s changed.” Can we trust Google on their other published advice? If so, when and when not?

Forum discussion at Reddit.

Remains of Aztec sacrifices found in Mexico’s Temple Mayor

The treasure trove of Aztec artifacts was found on the steps of the Temple Mayor, the main temple, and most sacred of the Mexica peoples in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, in what is now Mexico City. In its glory days, the temple measured approximately 100 by 80 meters (328 by 262 ft) at its base and was almost 15 stories in height. The Temple Mayor, along with the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was destroyed after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521. The offerings were placed there over five centuries ago by Aztec priests, during the reign of the empire’s most powerful ruler Ahuitzotl, in a circular and ritual platform in what would have been the front of the temple, which today sits right next to the bustling Zócalo square in the city.

Model of the Templo Mayor (main temple) of Tenochtitlan

Model of the Templo Mayor (main temple) of Tenochtitlan

s shepherd from durham, nc

What is especially exciting to archaeologists is that the find could be a lead to finding an Aztec emperor’s tomb. In all the years of excavating, no one has ever found an Aztec emperor’s burial site. “We have never found that and we now have the enormous expectation,” the leading archaeologist, Leonardo López Lujan, told Reuters, according to ABC. “We assume as we go deeper we will continue to find very rich objects.” The sacrificial offerings A jaguar offering was found in a large rectangular stone box with the emblem of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. There was also a set of flint knives decorated with pearl, jade and green stone. Only a tenth of this box has been excavated, but a great many interesting artifacts have been found. They include a launcher and a carved wooden disc placed on the back of the feline, which was the emblem of the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and sun. There was also a great variety of aquatic offering placed on the Jaguar, which was facing West, toward the Pacific Ocean.

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball ...

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017


The aquatic artifacts include a large number of shells, bright red and coral starfish. Archaeologists conclude these objects represent the aquatic underworld by which the Aztecs believed the sun traveled to at night, before rising again the next day. A spatulate ibis, a pink bird of the flamingo family, has also been found in the offering. The bird is associated with warriors and rulers. It is also thought that the spatulate ibis represents the spirits of warriors and rulers as they descend into the underworld. “We can see it once we can remove a huge bed of coral that is visually covering what is below the deposit,” said archaeologist Miguel Báez.

Representation of the Aztec (Mexica) god Huitzilopochtli from the recto of the folio 5 of the Codex...

Representation of the Aztec (Mexica) god Huitzilopochtli, from the recto of the folio 5 of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis (16th century).


Is this the site of the royal burial? In 2015, Mexico’s INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, or National Institute of Anthropology and History) announced the discovery of a 27-foot long tunnel below the Templo Mayor complex. The tunnel goes into the middle of a circular platform. It is believed the Aztec rulers were cremated at this site. And up until now, while archaeologists have known the rulers were cremated at death, no tombs have been found. Due to other work being done at the time, the tunnel was covered up until 2016, when the current excavation began. It is believed that scientists may find the cremains of three Aztec kings, all brothers who ruled from 1469 to 1502. Chronicles write that the cremated remains of the rulers were deposited with luxurious offerings and the hearts of slaves sacrificed near the circular platform. As a footnote to this archaeological excavation, there are still several months of meticulous work to be completed, but under the new government of Mexico, funding for archaeology projects has been cut by 20 percent. Almost all of the 25 team members have not received payments since December.

YouTube Makes Up 37% of Mobile Web Traffic Worldwide by @MattGSouthern


According to data revealed in a new report, YouTube is responsible for 37% of all mobile web traffic.

The report from Sandvine details which apps generate the most downstream mobile web traffic in the world.

Traffic is measured in megabytes, which could explain why YouTube has such a commanding lead over other applications.

By comparison, Facebook accounts for only 8.4% of mobile web traffic.

“YouTube accounts for the most megabytes with 37%, an awfully long way ahead of second-placed Facebook with 8.4% and Snapchat with 8.3%. Netflix, which accounts for the most internet traffic overall, only manages 2.4% when it comes to mobile.”

Here is a complete list of apps mentioned in the report along with their share of mobile web traffic:

  • YouTube – 37%
  • Facebook – 8.4%
  • Snapchat – 8.3%
  • Instagram – 5.7%
  • Web browsing – 4.6%
  • Facebook video – 2.5%
  • Netflix – 2.4%
  • WhatsApp – 3.7%
  • App Store – 2.1%
  • Google Play – 1.9%
  • Others – 23.4%

Users are consuming more content (per megabyte) on YouTube than on any other app. This includes social media and other video apps like Netflix.

Another interesting takeaway from this data is that Snapchat accounts for the same amount of mobile traffic as Facebook, despite having many fewer users.

Again, that likely has to do with the video-centric nature of Snapchat. When you also factor in Facebook video then Facebook starts to pull further ahead of Snapchat.

People clearly enjoy watching video on their phones–so why is Netflix so far down the list?

Well, Netflix content is behind a paywall, so that’s a major factor.

However, I think the data says more about the types of video users prefer to watch on mobile devices.

Short-form video content is king on the mobile web, whereas full-length movies and shows are better suited for computer and TV screens.

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3 key components of mobile audience marketing

The birth of digital advertising brought with it the sophisticated use of data for audience targeting. While the cookie has served as the de facto mechanism for building audiences across desktop advertising, privacy-compliant location data now serves as the primary component of mobile audience marketing, through the use of location-based marketing strategies like geo-targeting and geo-conquesting.

However, marketers primarily focus on one component of mobile audience marketing today – reaching the right audience. There’s growing attention on attribution, a second element, which shows that online ads result in physical retail sales. There’s also a third element to successful audience marketing which receives little attention today – understanding that audience before the sale of the campaign even occurs. Marketers looking to build out mobile marketing are missing roughly two-thirds of the picture that’s available to them today.

When creating the initial concept for a campaign, we’ve seen the most successful companies use location-based analytics to inform their sales pitches and presentations before the campaign even begins. They’re using data to learn how frequently customers visit their locations to segment their audience based upon loyalty. They’re evaluating which competitive locations their audience also visits to influence that audience and increase the efficiency of their ad spend. One of the most effective use cases is agencies and sales teams using this data early in the sales cycle to help their clients visualize and understand their audience, which boosts not only their credibility but also their ability to win the business.

The second component of mobile audience marketing involves building and reaching the audience. There are numerous platforms available today that provide a black-box approach to buying very broad location-based audiences, such as Target shoppers or coffee drinkers. There is an elegant simplicity in choosing a pre-built audience, and there are always campaigns that are a great fit for this tactic.

On the flip side, if there’s one thing that Facebook and Google have proven when it comes to audience targeting; marketers absolutely love to see high degrees of transparency, flexibility and customizability as to how those audiences are made. They love taking control of the creation of the audience. Marketers that plan the most effective mobile campaigns spend a few extra minutes customizing the specific locations and date ranges that comprise their audience. They’re using the data and the visualizations they generated in the first step to increase their return-on-investment.

The last component of mobile audience marketing, and easily the most difficult, is attributing digital campaigns to in-store foot traffic and purchases. Advertisers increasingly ask for this, but there is still no holistic solution that can provide the answer. Fundamentally, this problem remains unsolved because of all of the various data silos that aren’t able to communicate with one another. The ad seen on TV can’t inform your phone or laptop that it’s also seen the ad, while the point-of-sale system or online checkout can’t notify those previous touch points to confirm the sale occurred.

Despite these challenges, true attribution will be available someday. In the meantime, marketers owe it to themselves to test multiple approaches to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. When considered from the “audience” perspective, we see companies looking to evaluate how this audience behaved after the campaign. They’re looking to answer questions like “Did the frequency of visitation increase?” “Did my foot traffic increase against my competitors with this audience?” “From which competitors am I winning market share?” Reporting that provides insight into how a campaign influenced a digital audience’s behavior in the physical world wins bonus points within marketing teams and with clients. There are also benefits to using different solutions that provide audience building, media spend, activation and attribution. By working with various companies, there is limited opportunity for bias in the results, and therefore, marketers can have more trust in the data.

The ability to reach and understand audiences across desktop advertising is mature. As mobile marketing increasingly dominates ad spend, and the use of geo-targeting strategies rises, the use cases and techniques also evolve. Mobile marketing initially adopted many of the tried-and-true approaches from the desktop ecosystem. As mobile advertising begins to mature, so does the ability for marketers to use data before, during and after campaigns. This comprehensive approach ultimately increases the effectiveness and credibility of campaigns.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Brian is currently the CEO of Reveal Mobile. He was previously a GM of Microsoft’s Online Services division and has more than 20 years of technical, operational and executive management experience. Brian was co-founder and CEO of Accipiter, which was acquired by aQuantive in December of 2006 followed by the acquisition of aQuantive by Microsoft in 2007.

How to increase conversions: Ideas, tools, examples

how to increase conversions: ideas, tools, and examples

Historically digital marketers are more concerned about attracting traffic to the site than boosting on-site conversions.

This is unfortunate because conversion optimization usually requires smaller investments and provides faster results than growing your traffic.

Here are eight ways to increase your ecommerce conversions quickly by providing better usability and smoother user experience.

1. Make your checkout process simpler

The name of the game is convenience. Don’t make it difficult for the consumer to finish a purchase. The more barriers your site throws up, the more likely it is your customers will leave the cart without completing the purchase.

According to BigCommerce’s 2019 Omni-Channel Retail Report, convenience is among the top 3 reasons U.S.  consumers across all generations chose to buy from an online store. When shopping online, millennials have become used to speed and convenience while younger generations have never known shopping without these.

graph showing "what is the primary reason you buy from a brand's website"

You should have a simple checkout process because that’s what is expected from your site these days (and often the primary reason why they shop online anyway). For example, sites that force you to sign up before you can check out are frustrating, and many users are not willing to spend time creating an account. Remove the forced signup and provide an option to checkout out as “guest.”

Every section of your checkout process is another opportunity for the consumer to quit and walk away. Consider whether any given section is worth the chance of losing sales and if you can safely remove it. Or, if it can’t be removed, find a way to streamline the entire process. For example, include a duplicating button that allows users to make their delivery address their billing address, without entering the same information twice.

Create easy cart navigation and decrease the number of steps needed to complete the purchase. This will increase sales and profits as well as customer satisfaction.

Featured tool: allows to easily A/B your site shopping experience to come up with the best solution for your customers. Additionally, for WordPress, here’s a detailed A/B testing tutorial. tool for how to increase conversions

2. Provide one-click upsells

According to ConversionXL, it is 25 times more expensive to develop new customers than it is to re-convert your current customers. You need to work to keep re-engaging your existing customers continually.

They are more valuable to you than a new visitor. Studies have shown that if you can increase your customer retention by 5%, you can increase your profits by up to 25%.

You can keep these consumers through a one-click upsell option. It convinces customers to complete an additional, unplanned-for transaction. It’s exactly how impulse shopping works in brick-and-mortar stores. They place enticing items by the register to convince you to add them to your purchase while you stand in line.

PayKickstart users have demonstrated powerful proof of concept: Many of them have seen both their average customer value and the total revenue more than double after they implemented one-click upsells:

paykickstart showing benefits of increased conversions after adding upsells

3. Make your shopping experience mobile-friendly

Mobile shopping is continually growing. More people are using their mobile device or tablet to shop on ecommerce sites than ever before, and with the fast adoption of smartphones worldwide, the numbers will continue to go up.

Users are more likely to abandon a cart and navigate away from your site if it’s difficult to browse on a smartphone. You don’t always need to develop an expensive app, but you do need to make your website easy to read and use on a smartphone.

One powerful way to make your shopping experience mobile friendly without investing into a standalone app is to use web design platforms that support progressive web apps (PWAs) which act like native mobile apps but don’t need to be installed by your customers. According to Google, PWAs are “a new way to deliver amazing user experiences on the web.”

PWAs also support many app-like functionalities that most mobile-optimized websites do not, such as push notifications, which can be especially useful for omnichannel retailers.

Duda allows agency professionals to roll out progressive web app versions of their clients’ sites with one click of a button:

duda platform showing progressive web apps (PWAs)

4. Provide personalized shopping experience

Several studies found personalized experience is a growing ecommerce trend that shouldn’t be neglected:

  • 59% of e-commerce shoppers find it easier and more engaging to shop on sites that are personalized.
  • 56% of shoppers are increasingly more likely to return to a site that recommends products to them.
  •  53% of shoppers believe that e-commerce retailers that offer personalized shopping provide a valuable service.

With Amazon leading the digital marketing industry, most of US consumers already expect to receive personalized treatment whenever they shop online.

Alter helps you set-up personalized shopping experience without the need to invest into an in-house solution. It works as follows:

  • Visitors read content or research products like they normally would on their favorite websites and blogs
  • Alter anonymously determines non-personal visitor interests based on the web pages they’re viewing (e.g. shoes, cars).
  • Visitors see personalized content based on those interests to help save time on websites they visit later (marketer websites).

image of how to provide personalized experiences

Some content management systems also provide for solid personalization options (which would be even easier to implement). For example, Duda allows you to personalize CTAs and special offers based on time of day, geolocation, number of visits and more:

duda platform for how to edit special offers

5. Match your customers’ expectations

Many of your customers discover your products through Google search. Are your landing pages doing a good-enough job matching their expectations?

Search intent optimization is often overlooked. Yet, it’s what often determines your users’ on-page engagement. Whether they will instantly see what they expected to see determines whether they will want to stay and give your landing page a chance to convert them into buyers.

Text Optimizer is a great way to optimize your landing page copy to meet Google’s and its users’ expectations. It uses semantic analysis to extract important concepts from Google’s search results. Use these terms when crafting your landing page copy to optimize it better and engage more of your site visitors:

TextOptimizer tool for how to improve copy for increased conversions

6. Add a sense urgency

Have you ever had a case of FOMO or fear of missing out? You’re not alone. The fear of missing out on something amazing or special or even extremely ordinary is a powerful psychological force that you can tap into.

Add a sense of urgency to your shopping cart page to develop FOMO in your costumer. This can give hesitant customers the extra push they need to complete the purchase.

Amazon uses FOMO extremely well by adding a countdown timer tied into your shipping. It tells you to buy the product in the next XX minutes to qualify for one-day shipping.

image of amazon example of adding urgency for how to increase conversions

You can use this tactic by adding a timer to your cart page, or a countdown clock to the end of a sale (here’s how). You could even go simply by writing “checkout now” instead of only “checkout.”

7. Add breadcrumbs

Site navigation can be tricky. If you’ve never been on a particular website, you might struggle to find your way around after you move from the landing page.

This is especially troublesome for e-commerce sites. You need to implement clear site navigation for both SEO and  usability.

Setting up breadcrumbs throughout your pages is a simple way to help your users feel confident at each step of their journey. Make it obvious where the consumer should go and what they should click next, and you are likely to see your conversions go up.

Conversion optimization may seem overwhelming. Luckily there are tools and solutions that can make it quite doable. Before investing in attracting more traffic to your site, try implementing the tips above to get the most of those visitors you already have.

Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on twitter @seosmarty

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Google On Neural Matching vs RankBrain

After I wrote up the what is neural matching, I got to thinking and decided to email Google a bunch of questions, which I published at Search Engine Land as Danny Sullivan posted the answers on Twitter via the @searchliaison account.

I love how Google summed it up:

  • RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts.
  • Neural matching helps Google better relate words to searches.

Google said the Neural matching helps them better relate words to searches. Neural matching is an artificial intelligence based system that Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. Google said it is “like a super-synonym system.” Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words, Google said. For example, neural matching helps us understand that a search for “why does my TV look strange” is related to the concept of “the soap opera effect.” We can then return pages about the soap opera effect, even if the exact words aren’t used, Google said.

Whereas with RankBrain, Google said RankBrain is an AI-based system Google began using in 2016 to understand how pages are related to concepts. It means we can better return relevant pages even if they don’t contain the exact words used in a search, by understanding the page is related to other words & concepts.

Here is a bit more:

Does RankBrain and Neural matching work together? Kind of:

Here are the original tweets from Google:

So no, no real way to “optimize” for it like for RankBrain.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

UDrone – the ‘mind-reading’ drone

Moving beyond the concept of voice controls or touchscreen gestures, a relatively new concept with drones is the ability to control a drone by detecting muscular and electrical signals. This is the basis of a new product that is currently seeking crowdfunding called the UDrone.

The UDrone device. UDrone features Gesture Recognition function for aiding the taking of photograph...

The UDrone device. UDrone features Gesture Recognition function, for aiding the taking of photographs.

The UDrone presents a novel type of interface, developed by the company EEG Smart. Although the drone is not exactly ‘mind-controlled’, the package (drone plus headband) presents a different type of hands-free drone experience.

Commanding a drone with brain electrical impulses? The UDrone kit.

Commanding a drone with brain electrical impulses? The UDrone kit.

The package comes as a drone and a head-piece band (which the manufacturer terms a ‘brain computer interface’). The band works by picking up electromyographical activity on the scalp. The band contains sensors, fitted behind the ears.

The headband for the UDrone. The headset has a number of sensors built in. There s an EEG or electr...

The headband for the UDrone. The headset has a number of sensors built in. There’s an EEG, or electroencephalography sensor, which measures electrical activity in the brain. There’s an EOG, or electro-oculography sensor that measures eye movements by monitoring the electrical potential between the front and back of the human eye.

These sensors function by picking up electromyographic activity from the masseter muscle (the facial muscle that plays a major role in the chewing of solid foods). The video below shows the drone and headset being demonstrated:

The band is capable of detecting slight facial movements and converting these into commands. The drone and headband were sent to Digital Journal for review and, after a little practice, the drone can be made to move in a particular direction via the weaning of the headband. This makes for a different experience – certainly a number of different gestures are required – and a bit of fun. It will take a bit of practice, however. The drone can be operated indoors or outside (with the user at close proximity). For this reviewer’s test, the drone was only tested for a short period of time indoors. The package contains:UDrone – the drone itself. UMind lite – the headband. Detachable battery. USB cable. Extra propeller set. Protection cover. Mini battery charger base. User manual. Propeller installer and changer. To use the drone an app is required and connection to WiFi, to enable controls via a smartphone. Once connected, the drone flies well. There is an auto-flight control system maintains stability during flying ad there are three adjustable speed settings. The drone is charged by a USB cable. The drone comes with a camera, which can also be activated using the headband (a double-blinking activity) or by making a hand gesture (a peace sign). This is a little tricky but it can be achieved, again with practice.

Alternative image of the UDrone.

Alternative image of the UDrone.

The UDrone has recently been launched on Indiegogo, with a current offer of around $300 for the drone and headset.