Their new PowerUp FPV combines drone technology and Google Cardboard to make users feel like Superman
PowerUp Toys caught people’s attention back in 2014 when their Kickstarter campaign for a smartphone-controlled paper airplane surpassed its initial goal of $50,000 to reach over $1 million, becoming one of the highest funded campaigns in the flight category. Now they want to try to recapture that same magic.
In a partnership with Parrot, a world leader in drone and video streaming technology, PowerUp hopes to merge drones and virtual reality with the release of PowerUp FPV, which will let pilots view what drones see in real-time with the aid of a specially mounted, fully rotating camera. This camera’s live action recording will then stream to the pilot’s smartphone via Google Cardboard technology.
Imagine this, just with a drone flying up to 300 feet in the air and up to 20 miles per hour. If intrigued, you can pre-order it through their PowerUp FPV Kickstarter campaign, which will launch in November.
PowerUp Toys is a unique combination of advanced technology and good old fashioned handmade paper airplanes. The kits come with motors and engines, which attach to traditional paper airplanes that the pilot folds. They are then controlled by the user’s smartphone.
Their newest product, PowerUp FPV (first person view), hopes to bring a whole new perspective to drone flying with the inclusion of Google Cardboard technology. With an embedded camera that will stream to the pilot’s smartphone, this VR experience should give the user the wondrous experience of flying.
And it’s also cool that they will have the ability to use the included Wi-Fi to put the footage on YouTube or their desired video site instantly.
To assist the pilot, PowerUp has included an autopilot feature, which allows the drone to account for variables beyond the pilot’s control, such as wind or flaws in the folded plane. It will also prevent the plane from stalling or crashing.
I feel the need, the need for speed (and video quality)
There are currently two types of drones with FPV technology on the market. The first uses analog signals to control and stream the video captured by the drone. These particular machines have a long range and battery life, allowing them to be flown great distances from the pilot, but provide poor video quality.
The other type uses digital devices, like smartphones, for control. These drones can only travel about 50 feet from the pilot before losing signal, and tend not to have video streaming capabilities. Neither type of drone is particularly fast.
It was PowerUp’s goal to find the middle ground where a greater range was still achievable without the usage of a clunky radio controller and had an improved image quality. To get around this, PowerUp decided to include a small Wi-Fi hotspot in the PowerUp FPV. Partnering with Parrot, a leader in consumer drones and connected devices, they have managed to accomplish this goal. Parrot is the creator of the AR Drone, one of the first quadcopters to put a camera on their device.
Last year, we also got to check out Parrot’s Rolling Spider drone, shown here:
Be like Peter Pan and never grow up
PowerUp may seem like the perfect drone for young enthusiasts, but as CEO Shai Goitein explained to Geektime, their actual focus is on adults. Shai believes that PowerUp elicits an emotional connection that other drones fail to do by connecting the user back to their childhood. “Everybody knows how to make a paper airplane. It’s a basic concept that captures in it a lot of the values (of the company), which is a great memory from childhood, that made something from a very simple material from childhood, that’s accessible. It’s actually like your first scientific experiment.”
This homemade aspect of drone also allows for multiple uses and customization. Unlike other drones, which when broken require extensive repair or replacement, PowerUp planes can have the motorized parts removed and placed onto a newly folded plane. This means there’s no concern when a plane crashes or gets wet, as repairs become more like arts and crafts.
Because of the ready availability of the material and lack of complicated controls, PowerUp planes are perfect for every drone user, from the most knowledgeable hobbyist to the beginner, allowing for a whole new group of people to join the drone craze. This ease of use, combined with the lower starting price, makes aerial fun available to everyone.
The Kickstarter for PowerUp FPV launches in mid-November, with a projected retail release date of summer 2016 at $199. Previous versions of PowerUp, including PowerUp 3.0, are available on their website.
Check out the PowerUp FPV here: