We’re two days out from the tech-filled extravaganza that is the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show, an epic display of wealth, gadgetry and bling to an audience of 150,000 people. Drones have their own wing of the event now, and a number of companies were displaying drones aimed directly at consumers. Leaving aside the growing business market for these models, I’ve taken a look at some of the most interesting options in the consumer space. Some can be classified as toys, some as aerial selfie sticks, but if this market gets traction, it will greatly increase the public support for business usages, so it’s a carrot-stick-carrot approach. Enjoy the latest additions to the drone-iverse.
The LEGO drone [kinda]
Drones are big business, predicted to be worth billions in the next decade. Getting into this nascent industry is a smart idea, and the best way to make them accessible is to let flyers understand how they work. Airblock, a Kickstarter-funded project, offers a LEGO like-system, where the drone is constructed by snapping magnetic parts together. It can be configured into different shapes and programmed through their app. Its modular design allows for endless variations and the drag and drop programming is simple enough for kids to use. Pre-order for $129 now.
The Rise Of Selfie Drones
Getting the perfect dronie has been a hot topic in the UAV community for some time now, but this looks to be the year that selfie drones finally become available for everyday consumers. Some of the players in this game are Zero Zero Robotics’ Hover Camera Passport, $599, which gets extra points for its propellor encasing design; safety first when taking a dronie. It features a 13-megapixel camera, and is just under the weight limit that requires users to register drones with the FAA. It’s been around for awhile now, but their new “Owner Mode” uses facial recognition to keep the drone focused on your face, an attractive proposition for novice flyers. A cheaper option is the ROVA at $399; it’s not as portable, but offers the same propeller protection, a 12-megapixel camera and captures 1080p video. For $199 you can opt for Hobbico’s C-me drone (out March 2017), an iPhone-sized device that captures 8-megapixel images and 1080p HD video.
And if there was the slightest lingering doubt that Dronies are a fad, camera company Polaroid announced at CES 2017 that they’ve created three selfie-licious drones, designed for “on-the-go consumers who are ready to fly.” With 720p-1080p HD video streaming, they’re low spec, but make up for it by being priced $59.99 to $269.99. Plus, this is a brand name that people recognize – while DJI is the arguable leader in the drone world, the average consumer might not recognize them (thought their inclusion in Target and Walmart is changing that) while the Polaroid name is ubiquitous with fun easy picture taking. “With the introduction of our US drone line, Polaroid is truly taking the experience of capturing life’s most memorable moments to a new level,” said Polaroid President and CEO, Scott W. Hardy.