Snap, the parent company of photo sharing app Snapchat, recently announced that it will release a handheld mini drone called Pixy. The company made its foray into hardware products with Spectacles, a pair of augmented reality-powered glasses that didn’t quite catch on with a mainstream audience, over five years ago. The Pixy, a compact and submarine yellow drone, is expected to perform better with Snap’s primarily 13 – 34-year-old audience.
Available for purchase this coming Thursday, in both the United States and France, the palm-sized and 101g mini drone is a companion camera for the photo-sharing app. There isn’t a remote controller or slot for an SD (memory) card. Users simply power the drone on, hold it in the palm of their hand at eye level, and it will take off and follow them around.
‘Today, we’re taking the power and magic of the Snap Camera (the app’s built-in camera that includes filters) — the spontaneity, the joy and the freedom — to new heights. A new camera to match the limitless potential of your imagination. Meet Pixy, the world’s friendliest flying camera. It’s a pocket-sized, free-flying sidekick for adventures big and small,’ Snap CEO Evan Spiegel stated at Snap Partner Summit’s keynote.
Featuring a pared-down design, there is a button on top to power on the drone and a camera dial that features six different automated flight patterns. You shouldn’t fly it far or over water as the bottom camera could be triggered and cause it to land. After take off, the drone will follow you around and perform the desired effect you selected on the dial. With a fully-charged battery, that can be swapped out, you can get a range of five to eight flights, from 10–20 seconds.
|Snap’s Pixy drone is lightweight, quiet and fits in the palm of your hand.|
While that may seem like a minuscule amount of time compared to typical drones, whose battery life averages 30 minutes per full charge, the Pixy is meant to capture content suited for Snapchat’s audience that shares temporary, short-lived content clips. A 12MP camera is capable of shooting up to 100 videos at up to 2.7K/30p or 1,000 photos. The 16MB locally-stored drive automatically syncs content captured on the drone directly to Snapchat.
The quality of the imagery isn’t ideal for sharing on YouTube or viewing on a television screen. But for smartphone consumption, it’s suitable. Evan Spiegel, Snap’s CEO, clearly knows his audience—and one that is growing at a rate faster than Twitter’s or Facebook’s according to the company’s latest quarterly report.
‘I think Pixy opens up a whole new space here because your smartphone can’t fly. You can get a totally new and different perspective. And so in that way, I think Pixy is meaningfully better than what your smartphone can create,’ Spiegel told The Verge on a call. He expects more iterations to come in the future, depending on how well this model performs.
Pixy can be purchased on Snap’s site. While available for sale this Thursday, it won’t ship out for another 11-12 weeks in France and 16-17 weeks in the US. A ‘Flight Pack’ that includes two batteries and a dual battery charger retails for $249.99 while the basic Pixy is $229.99.