It has been a big start to the year for consumer drones. Just recently DJI announced the fourth generation of its popular Phantom quadcopter. Back at CES, Parrot detailed a new fixed wing drone with impressive flight speeds. Fast forward to today and PowerUp has opened pre-orders for its FPV virtual reality-enabled kit for paper airplanes. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $500,000, it is now ready for purchase.
PowerUp partnered with Parrot on this DIY kit that brings together today’s technology with the classic pastime of paper airplanes. You can control flight via your phone or VR headset, allowing anyone to take to the skies. With big names like DJI dominating the space, will this alternative be able to contend? More below.
PowerUp proclaims that the FPV allows pilots to “experience flight as you were sitting in the cockpit.” Sounds good to me. Let’s start with the basics. What you’re actually purchasing here is an add-on camera module and tiny engine that attaches to your homemade airplane. It has a camera in the front, Wi-Fi radio and two propellers in the rear. A Google Cardboard VR viewer is included with purchase, although you could use a third-party alternative from Amazon or DODOcase.
Once you’ve built a paper airplane and installed the kit, it’s time to fly. You’ll want to be sure to build a strong aircraft from heavier grade paper since the motor is capable of pushing speeds up to 20MPH. The plane can be controlled two different ways: via the manual touch controls on your iPhone/Android device or with your VR kit of choice. Each mode provides a first-person view from the front of the plane. It’s obviously more immersive with the VR kit and, if your plane is a low quality build, scarier. Users can expect up to 10 minutes of flight time on a single charge, which frankly is a little disappointing.
PowerUp’s FPV fits more in line with Parrot’s consumer drones than DJI’s. Much like the alternatives, you can stream and record video or still images from your flight. The 30fps capture rate is down from its competitors but so is the price. At $199, it falls just below Parrot’s AR.Drone 2.0 and is significantly less than the DJI Phantom 4. But ultimately, those two drones are designed for a different type of activity. Instead of focusing on professional grade video, the FPV is all about the experience. Building your plane and flying it in first person bring this product to a whole different level.
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PowerUp Releases the World’s First Remote-Controlled Paper Airplane with Video
NEW YORK – March 15, 2016 — PowerUp Toys announced the release of the Powerup FPV, the world’s first Smartphone-Controlled paper airplane with a video camera and first-person view. PowerUp FPV lets you experience flight as if you were sitting in the cockpit of your very own paper airplane. Using your smartphone with a head-mounted display (Google cardboard viewer included), you see what your plane sees, controlling your paper airplane with intuitive movements of your head. The Powerup FPV is iOS and Android compatible.
The PowerUp FPV travels at speeds up to 20 mph with approximately 10 minutes of continuous flight time. Auto-Pilot mode simplifies the flying process. The plane’s imbedded camera transmits a live video stream straight to the user’s smartphone with a range up to 300 ft. To make video streaming a reality, the company partnered with Parrot, makers of the AR.Drone and Minidrones, to leverage their expertise in WiFi streaming and drone controls.
“When my friend said I couldn’t control a paper airplane with a smartphone, I sought to prove him wrong with our PowerUp 3.0,” said Shai Goitein, CEO of PowerUp Toys. “When he said I couldn’t put a live-streaming camera on a paper airplane, I’ve again proved him wrong with PowerUp FPV. Now we are taking paper airplanes to new heights, and with the help of Parrot, are giving consumers the ability to see and feel the excitement of flying.”
Fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign, PowerUp FPV gives users a truly unique flight and viewing experience, all based on a paper airplane. PowerUp FPV can live stream the flight straight to a user’s Google Cardboard or other smartphone-powered head-mounted display (HMD). Users can control their flight using their HMD, or use the PowerUp App’s on-screen gamepad to control the plane. In addition, the fully rotating wide-view camera lets pilots capture their flight while looking forward from the cockpit, off the wings, or even a dramatic rear-view shot as they launch their planes into flight. They can then share video and images immediately via WiFi to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media platform.
The PowerUp FPV is available for preorders on the company’s website, www.Poweruptoys.com/FPV, for $199 USD — with an expected ship date of August 2016.
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