Lifestyle

3D Pocketcopter: The World's Smallest Flying Camera

Capturing memories on media has always been an integral part of preserving life’s moments. In fact, when disaster strikes your home and the time to evacuate comes, the first things most people would probably save are family albums or photos that aren’t already online or stored in cloud. That is why people are continuing to search for better and more innovative ways to capture their memories.

If you’re into mobile photography and you get excited about exploring different perspectives and angles in your photographs, the 3D Pocketcopter Flying Camera could be the device you can’t leave home without.

This little nifty device allows you to take high definition photos and videos in HD format from all angles and captures them in both 2D and 3D perspectives, up to 10 meters in height. The duo rotor blades are also easily removed if you want to mounting the device onto a helmet to record that extreme roller coaster ride, or just to holding it in your hand like any handheld camera.

Convenient, plug and play, all-in-one flying camera
Convenient, plug and play, all-in-one flying camera (Image Credit: Indiegogo)

The onboard 12V rechargeable battery lasts for 6 hours recording time and keeps the device in the air for 25 minutes. If the connection fails for some reason, the 3D Pocketcopter will float slowly to the ground.

The unit’s two blades keeps each rotor spinning in a different direction, adding stability while it’s hovering. The mechanism rotates silently and would not add rotator noises to your video recordings.  Imagine hovering one of these in front of you for that priceless selfie or group wefies.

The entire gadget functions as a mini camera which saves all photos and videos into a micro SD card. To control the 3D Pocketcopter, sync the device to your mobile phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and it instantly becomes a handheld remote control for the flying unit.

3D Pocketcopter features
3D Pocketcopter features (Image Credit: Indiegogo)

The 3D Pocketcopter also comes with a companion app for iOS, Android, and Windows OS, that lets you share your photos and videos to your favorite social media channels on the fly (literally).

3D Pocketcopter controller app
3D Pocketcopter controller app (Image Credit: Indiegogo)

Currently, there’s no prototype built yet but you could be the first to get it on Indiegogo. The 3D Pocketcopter will be about 19cm in height, 4.5cm in diameter and comes in 3 different colors; blue, yellow and black. The estimated delivery time for the first batch is tentatively pegged at May 2015.

3D Pocketcopter comes in 3 colors
3D Pocketcopter comes in 3 colors (Image Credit: Indiegogo)

The project has collected €103,294 (SGD 168,945) to date. That’s almost 700% beyond their targeted goal of€15,000 (SGD24,500) needed to roll the first batch out off the factory!

One 3D Pocketcopter costs €89 (SGD146), but get it together with a couple of friends and you can enjoy a bundle discount of €250 (SGD410) for 3 units and effectively save €17 (SGD28).

Drone Crazy

But if you’re a serious aerodrone geek that wants a pocket drone, you might need something a bit more powerful. Another kickstarter campaign that might catch your eye is the Pocket Drone micro-copter from AirDroids might be your kind of device. The software and hardware for this mighty mite caters to both entry level and seasoned aerodrone aviators.

Pocket Drone from AirDroids
Pocket Drone from AirDroids (Image Credit: Kickstarter)

The Pocket Drone is the world’s first heavy-lift micro-copter that can float a HD action sports camera into the air and leaves a footprint smaller than your 7-inch tablet and about three inches thick when folded. It might not fit into your jeans pockets, but it stows away snugly in your bag.

The tricopter design means it’s quieter, more precise and agile than any vehicle with more motors and props. The tricopter also has stronger yaw control to help maintain the camera where you want it while flying, so you capture what you want to see. It’s far stronger than the quad, hex, or octo based designs.

The Pocket Drone tucks in tightly when folded
The Pocket Drone tucks in tightly when folded (Image Credit: TechCrunch)

The price varies for each individual unit, depending on the type of specifications you want. But if you’re a noob and want fuss-free flying, AirDroids has developed a RTF (ready-to-fly) set that deploys in 20 seconds, at USD495 (SGD628) without a camera and USD555 (SGD704) with the optional camera included.

The Pocket Drone is able to carry a GoPro action camera
The Pocket Drone is able to carry a GoPro action camera (Image Credit: Kickstarter)

The Pocket Drone is cast from high-impact plastic and carbon fiber strong enough to withstand repeated crashes as you run it through your flying lessons. In fact, the struts have a built-in safety feature that renders them collapsible upon impact, reducing and absorbing impact forces and minimizing damage.

You are given the option to either control the drone using the included controller or the accompanying free app that synchs to and supports all mobile devices. Open source codes were used, effectively allowing you to hack and append the GPS tracking system with your preferred location tracking solutions.

What you get from the stock app are pre-defined GPS waypoints. You can simply drag a path featuring a touch interface and Google Maps to map a flight plan for your drone. You can also record, save and share, or download pre-made flight plans online.

High-impact plastic and carbon fiber housing
High-impact plastic and carbon fiber housing (Image Credit: TechCrunch)

The tri-copter unit gives you 20mins of flight time while carrying a camera, and the “follow-me” mode will make it track you like a little robotic aibo. The “follow-me” feature commands the copter to follow the controller wherever it goes. It’s pretty neat.

Trio blades providing stability and extra lift
Trio blades providing stability and extra lift (Image Credit: TechCrunch)

The Kickstarter campaign ended on March 2014 with the company raking in over 2,000 preorders for the Pocket Drone. The campaign ended close to a million dollars with USD929,212 (SGD1,177,480) in pledges, becoming the most popular drone project on Kickstarter. That’s close to 3,000% over the company’s goal of USD35,000 (SGD44,340).

If you’re interested in becoming a proud owner of the Pocket Drone, you can get them here. It’s somewhat more expensive than previously listed charges on Kickstarter, at USD599 (SGD760) for the RTF package without a camera and USD549 (SGD696) without the controller and camera. All prices does not include shipping charges and takes 6-8 weeks to ship.

Crowdfunding Concerns

The only downside for both the 3D Pocketcopter and the Pocket Drone is that they are currently being crowdfunded. While the videos of the pre-production models raise our hopes that these tiny crafts could deliver as promised, there’s always the risk that it will be late, hit an unplanned roadblock, or never actually materialize one day.

The lesser risk is that the appearance of the product is still subject to change. We have not yet seen a prototype for the 3D Pocketcopter while the Pocket Drone has gone through 27 prototypes and it’s now on version 28 for production. The latest photos from the Pocket Drone official website released on Sep 9 of the actual product doesn’t look as sleek, taking on a more boxy shape than previous versions.

The actual Pocket Drone will look like this
The actual Pocket Drone will look like this (Image Credit: ThePocketDrone.com)

Initially scheduled to deliver by July 2014, the Pocket Drone has run into some production difficulties with their supply chain for the FlySky FS-T6 RX/TX receivers. These are crucial parts for the drone as the RX/TX  forms the 2-way communication for the information relayed from the handheld controllers to the flying unit. The revised delivery date has been pushed to mid-end September instead.

However, have no fear. You can always get your money back if you reckon the wait is getting too long for your liking. The 3D Pocketcopter and Pocket Drone are being funded on Indiegogo and Kickstarter respectively, both of which offer refunds at any time before you receive your product.

For some of us, sometimes the act of pledging is a show of support for innovative ideas to propagate and not so much as purchasing a product per se. It’s encouragement for those that dare to dream.

What do you think? Would you back an idea you saw and love on crowdfunding websites?

 

 

 

 

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