What if you could combine a pocket-sized, smartphone-driven nano-copter drone with HD photo capabilities and a fully hackable platform? Well, you’re too late. The Indiegogo-fueled ELF is already on the crowdfunding launch pad with its prototype VRdrone.
Using 3D printed parts, the ELF, a Chinese project, connects to IOS or Android devices with Bluetooth and streams images or video to the device and, as an added bonus, produces a “3D” binocular, viewing mode by using a special cardboard device that can be viewed by an observer while the pilot operates the drone.
“One fundamental limitation of existing aerial photography drone design, is the inaccessibility to ultra-realistic flight experience,” said ELF Senior Engineer Robi Wang. “The concept that integrates virtual reality jumped out as a [way to achieve that experience].”
The ELF uses an on-board 720p HD cam that transmits a real-time signal to a smartphone device while the pilot uses another smartphone to steer the drone.
Wang says the most compelling feature of the ELF is its open-source hackability:
“You can either modify the hardware to redefine new functionality or personalize the app without approval or oversight hassles. Open source also means there’s no limitations — anyone can learn and start building your own ELF with released files including main board design, electronics layout or schematics.”
Users can download 3D files at Thingiverse and print out an ELF design as well. Early contributors can expect to receive a new version of the ELF by July at a price-point of $59.
Features and specs include:
- First person view (FPV) and immersive VR flying experience. “See what the camera sees in compelling 3D effect as if you are in the sky yourself.”
- Instant visual image and video sharing to social networks.
- Onboard 720p HD video camera to capture aerial footage, real-time transmits via onboard wifi module.
- Optional on-screen app or traditional stick control. “It integrates a physical joystick as an alternative if you want better tangible maneuvering.”
- Dimensions: 14 cm X 14 cm X 3.5 cm
- Weight: 98 grams
- Battery: 900 ma
- Flight Time: 7 mins (weather dependent)
- Operating Range: 15 – 30 meters
Would you be interested in a system like the ELF? Let us know in the comments!