The term ‘flying camera’ gets thrown around quite a bit in the drone industry. But the new Fotokite Phi, launched on Tuesday on Indiegogo, might be the first true flying camera on the market.
Despite it’s appearance, the Fotokite Phi isn’t even really a drone because it features no autonomy or GPS connectivity whatsoever and isn’t meant to be flown in the traditional sense.
The Fotokite Phi is launched in the air by hand and then steered and controlled by a leash and a tether. Users equip the Fotokite with a GoPro camera (sold separately) and drag it through the air like a kite that takes pictures or a selfie stick that flies.
It is, of course, still a smart device; the tether receives gesture control inputs and it folds up neatly for easy transportation.
The Fotokite uses soft, slow spinning propellers and includes prop guards, making it one of the safest flying selfie robots on the market. The soft, minimal materials means the whole package weighs just 12oz, including a GoPro and gets 15 minutes of flight time.
Developed by Zurich-based Perspectives Robotics, the Fotokite Phi will retail for $500, but early Indiegogo supporters can reserve one for as low as $259 and will receive their Fotokite (should the campaign get successfully funded) in March 2016.
“It’s a cross between an airborne pet and a steadicam in the sky,” Perspectives Robotics founder Sergei Lupashin told Market Watch.
UAV companies have flirted with this concept before. Hexo+ and AirDog, two other enormously successful crowdfunded drone projects, were built around the concept of ‘follow me’ wherein the drone would automatically follow the subject around using a smartphone or periphery device as a virtual leash, respectively. And Massachusetts-based CyPhy Works developed tethered drones for military uses only to abandon the tether when they began developing a drone for the prosumer market.
The Fotokite Indiegogo campaign will run until September 18 and the team is looking to raise $300,000.
You can find out more about the Fotokite in the video below and contribute to the campaign on Indiegogo.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com