After the lights went dark in the Monte Carlo resort’s Park Theater, a buzzing army of 110 small drones with flickering red lights started to float up to the ceiling from offstage.
While Kygo‘s dreamy pop song “Stargazing” played, the drones pulled together into pulsing, swirling clouds that reached into the audience, at times forming rotating stars or shimmering sheets of light.
That was the finale of Intel’s keynote event at the CES tech show last month in Las Vegas, where CEO Brian Krzanich introduced to the world these hand-sized Shooting Star Mini drones, the next generation of drones Intel’s made specifically for drone light shows.
The chipmaker made a splash with its bigger sister Shooting Star drones at last year’s Super Bowl, with an array of 300 drones turning themselves into an American flag in the sky behind Lady Gaga during a pretaped portion of the halftime show. The new younger sibling Mini drones were built to perform light shows indoors, part of Intel’s plans to bring this new form of entertainment to many more places this year.
“This is a new way to tell storytelling in the sky, where you have a blank canvas, like a night canvas in the sky,” Natalie Cheung, Intel’s general manager of drone light shows, told me a few hours before the keynote presentation. “It’s sort of like digital fireworks.”