26 Mar 2017

The Air Selfie: Just a toy or a serious drone?

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Image sin the palm of your hand. Or floating just over them anyway... Image sin the palm of your hand. Or floating just over them anyway... Air Selfie

The Air Selfie can fly out to a preset distance, take a picture and return. Indoors or outdoors. And the best part is, it fits inside your iPhone case. But is the Air Selfie a serious drone for capture or just another aerial toy?

If you think about it, the Air Selfie drone has a lot in common with GoPro at the very beginning of its run. Back then, Nick Woodman had this crazy idea that surfers would want a waterproof camera to capture their experiences riding a wave. It was the world’s first selfie camera. The Air Selfie drone takes it to the next level by adding an aerial aspect to capturing your experiences wherever you go. It’s not the first based on this idea, for sure. I think that moniker belongs to the Nixie, which won the annual Intel Tech challenge in 2015. A wearable drone, the Nixie can be unwrapped from the wrist and deployed for a quick selfie before coming back. There’s also the book-sized Hover Camera.

But unlike the Nixie or the Hover, the Air Selfie Drone can be carried with you, housed in your smartphone case. That’s a clever place for it, as you know your phone is always with you. To deploy it, you simply slide it out of the case and it’s ready to fly, with your iPhone or Android device doubling as your flight controller.

The Selfie has four brushless motors that drive small fans to keep it aloft. The motors are housed in a high-tech and stylish anodised aluminium housing that also carries the drone’s 5MP camera for taking selfies, as well as gyro, barometer and geomagnetic sensors. It also has 2.4 GHz WiFi to control it wirelessly and to offload any video or still images you take directly to your smartphone from its built-in 4GB MicroSD card. The 240mAh battery gives the Air Selfie up to one hour of flight time when it’s charged inside the phone case that doubles as a portable power bank. To charge from empty only takes 30 minutes and the Air Selfie can be refuelled up to 20 times before the power bank itself needs recharging. There’s also a USB connector for direct access or charging.

To operate it, Air Selfie has three modes:

  • Selfie Mode: This will deploy the drone out to close or further away for group shots.
  • Motion Control Mode with a virtual joystick via the app
  • Flying Mode: Where you use the orientation of the device to move Selfie to the right spot. Once there, you can lock the drone in place and it will hover to get the shot. You can also post images directly to social media while the drone is still in flight.

Then all you need to do is walk up and take it out of the air, turn it off and place it back in its case. And the Air Selfie is so small, you can use it indoors as well as outdoors. But make sure you know the drone rules where you’re at it if you don’t want to ruffle some feathers. I can imagine, for instance, that theme parks like Disneyland will ban them quicker than they did the selfie stick.

Currently available for preorder now on Kickstarter, the Air Selfie has raised nearly €600,000 and shows no sign of slowing down. And as of March, it is ready to ship to backers, but it will hit the market in April at an MSRP of around €360. That includes the Air Selfie Drone, the Phone case/power bank, and the usual cable and other accessories. Models are available for Samsung S7 edge, iPhone 6, iPhone7.

So, is the Air Selfie Drone a tool or a toy? Well, both. Of course, all drones have a toy quality to them, if you really think about it. But they are also a tool that enables you to capture a great shot from on high, and the Air Selfie is no different. It’s got a great design and a lot of promise for capturing that moment, no matter where you are.

 


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