Lily: the flying camera that follows your every move

Lily CamOver the past year several camera-carrying drones have emerged on the scene, including Nixie wearable drone, Hexo+ and the Go Pro drone, to name a few. However, the most exciting sounding yet is Lily Camera, which has just been launched, quite literally, by a small start-up in the US.

Rather than being a drone that carries an action cam, Lily Camera is being marketed as a flying camera that will follow and film you autonomously. All you have to do is throw it into the air and it will begin filming, tracking your every movement via a small GPS device worn either on the wrist on in a pocket. For more accurate framing, it will also have computer vision technology that will recognise your face.

The HD camera shoots 1080p at 60 frames per second or 720p at 120 fps, and stills at 12 megapixels. It can even sense the nature of your activity and trigger burst mode or slow mode accordingly.

Lily Camera is also extremely durable, with a polycarbonate hull to withstand crashes and a waterproof rating of IP67. For extra protection, the camera is also internal rather than being mounted externally. The tracking device is water resistant and comes with a waterproof case that can be used if it’s likely to be fully submerged.

It has a 2 hour charge time, which provides 20 minutes of flight, and comes with a 4GB micro SD and external memory card slot.

The device is still a work in progress and there are several issues that need to be ironed out before it goes on general sale, however it’s just been made available for pre-order at $499 (£322), which is significantly cheaper than the projected $899 (£580) retail price.

What do you think of Lily Camera? Share your thoughts below…


GoPro to launch its own drones

Drone_with_GoPro_digital_camera_mounted_underneath_-_22_April_2013Having just released its new range of action cameras, Go Pro is now reportedly working on its own line of consumer drones. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Go Pro plans to launch its own drones towards the end of next year, priced somewhere in the region of $500 – $1000 (approx. £320 – £650).

The drones, which have been described as multi-rotor helicopters, will come equipped with a high definition Go Pro camera, and be used to take incredible aerial footage.

There are already several companies developing consumer drones designed to carry action cameras such as the Go Pro, so it’s no wonder that Go Pro want to get in on the action themselves. With DJI and Parrot both having launched new models recently, and 3D Robotics and Hexo+ set to release their versions soon, it’s already a pretty crowded marketplace, but GoPro’s reputation should give it a foot up, especially if the price is right.

Chest harnesses and helmet mounts could soon be a thing of the past!

Would you buy a drone for action photography?

Google unveils Project Wing delivery drone programme

Google.drone.290-x195Google has revealed that it’s been building and testing drones that can be used to make deliveries. Project Wing is being overseen by Google X, the company’s secret tech research branch, and has been under development for the past two years.

The drones have a single “blended” wing measuring 1.5 metres, as well as four electronically driven propellers. It weighs 19 pounds and can carry packages up to 3 pounds, which are positioned in a gap in the middle of the wing. They are programmed with a destination and then fly there autonomously using a system of cameras, GPS, radios, accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Recently Google has been testing the drones successfully in Queensland, Australia, where the laws on flying drones are more “progressive” than many other parts of the world. The use of commercial drones is currently banned in the US, although both Amazon and Google are in talks with the regulators to change this.

The project is similar to the one announced by Amazon last year, although while Amazon’s Prime Air Service is intended to deliver goods to its customers, Google claims that its drones are being developed to deliver medical equipment and humanitarian aid. The idea was apparently first conceived as a way of delivering defibrillator kits to suspected heart attack sufferers more quickly than an ambulance. However, Google did also add that it envisaged the drones could be used to deliver goods to consumers eventually.

It would appear that the technology for drone delivery services is there, but the main hurdle is going to be changing regulations so that they can actually operate, and this will clearly involve a lot of research into the logistical and safety implications of having drones flying around autonomously.

Do you think it’s likely that we’ll see drones replacing delivery drivers in the near future?

Hexo+ aerial drone autonomously films you in action

hexoplus-0Video edits are big business in the action sports industry these days, for both professionals and amateurs alike. While the arrival of GoPro cameras has significantly improved what can be captured, anyone who’s used a helmet, pole or chest mounted GoPro will appreciate its limitations.

If you want more than some shaky footage with handlebars, pole or weird shaped board flapping around in shot, it generally needs to be filmed by someone else, preferably from above. Previously the only way to do this has been to employ a film crew with helicopters or man-operated drones, which is fine if you happen to be sponsored by Red Bull, but makes it unobtainable for us mere mortals.

However, Californian start-up Squadrone System has invented an ingenious aerial drone that will follow you as you move, without the need for a filming partner.

hexoplusThe Hexo+ is designed to carry a GoPro camera and tracks its subject via a smartphone app. The six-rotor device is capable of travelling at up to 45 miles per hour and can track and film its subject within a range of 164 feet. You can also programme the drone to film you from a precise distance and angle.

The device does have its limitations. Firstly, it only has 15 minutes battery life, which means no time for endless retakes. It also has no capacity for obstacle avoidance, which is fine in the open mountains, but might be a bit problematic if you want it to film yourself mountain biking down a forest trail.

However, this hasn’t proved to be a deterrent to the huge number of supporters who’ve already backed the project. Hexo+ was launched on Kickstarter on Saturday (15 June) and smashed its $50,000 target within only 2 hours. At the time of publication it had reached a massive $548,000 of backing with 27 days still to go.

hexoplus-2It also has the some of the biggest names in action sports behind it, including 3 times world champion freeride snowboarder Xavier de la Rue, who like many others, sees it as having the potential to revolutionise the world of action sports filming.

Early backers can get the Hexo+ for $599 (£353) on its own, or $699 (£412) with a GoPro Hero 3 White Edition camera, and are expected to receive the device in May 2015. When it goes on sale it will cost $899 (£530) without the camera.

What do you think?