Lily is taking the selfie up a notch.
The startup on Tuesday began taking preorders for a drone camera that will shoot video and stills as it flies above you.
While drone cameras have been on the market for some time, the Lily offering combines the popularity of first-person video cameras, like the wildly successful GoPro line of products, with the emerging consumer flying drone market.
Lily isn’t alone in developing a “follow me” drone cam — competitors AirDog and HexO+ will launch their products later this year — but it may be the most consumer-friendly.
“It’s the best executed [drone cam] for widespread adoption,” said Jaron Schneider, managing editor of Resource Magazine Online and owner of Schneider Productions, a commercial video company.
Pod With Propellers
The Lily camera looks like a pod with four rotors protruding from its midnight blue polycarbonate and brushed aluminum body.
It weighs 2.3 pounds and has a footprint of a little over 10 inches square. Its nonremovable lithium-ion battery takes two hours to recharge and will keep the drone aloft for 20 minutes.
Maximum altitude for the drone is 50 feet; the minimum, five feet. Maximum range from a user is 100 feet; minimum, five feet. Its max speed is 25 miles per hour.
The unit has two cameras — front and bottom facing — that can shoot 1080p video at 60 fps, 720p at 120 fps and 12-megapixel stills. Video is stored on a 4-GB micro SD card included with the unit.
Camera functions and video editing can be performed with a mobile app for Android or iOS devices. In addition, instructions can be sent to the drone via a tracking device with a diameter that’s a tad over 2 inches.
“Everything is held into a rather small package,” Schneider told TechNewsWorld, “which allows them to do a couple of cool things, such as make the device waterproof, and make usable audio with a drone for the first time ever.”
The Lily cam’s robustness could set it off from the competition, noted Andrew Amato, editor-in-chief and cofounder of Dronelife.
“Combining follow me with its durability — you can launch it from water — that hasn’t been put together in one package,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Depending how durable the other drones are, that could be one of the things that sets the Lily camera apart.”
Durability also will be important for the Lily cam, because it doesn’t contain object avoidance technology. If you want it to follow you in the woods, chances are it’ll crash into a tree. Lily is working on object avoidance for a future version of the product.
It also has another feature that should charm the action cam crowd.
“It’s able to recognize when you do something interesting with your body with its accelerometer,” Schneider said.
“If you go off a jump on a snowboard, or you hit the top of a wave while you’re surfing, Lily recognizes that and will slow that motion down then speed it back up when you complete the motion,” he explained.
Typically, that kind of effect is done in the post production of the video.
“This makes everything better, so that people who have no experience with photography or drones can start immediately,” Schneider said.
Lily’s offering has more mainstream appeal than other drones, said Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research.
“It focuses on ease of use, which is important for a real consumer product,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“For all the attention that’s been paid to drones, most of the applications today are corporate or enterprise kinds of tasks — surveillance, package delivery, high-end film making,” he said. “This isn’t going to replace the selfie stick, but it has a practical consumer application.”
Early Pricing Deal
Although the action cam set appear to be the target audience for the Lily cam, “the street finds its own use for things,” as author William Gibson once observed.
“I’m sure someone will figure out another use for it in the near future when it becomes available and more people can get their hands on it,” Dronelife’s Amato said.
During the preorder stage, Lily is selling its camera for US$499. After the preorder period, the price jumps to $999.
“I think it’s smart that they’re going with the preorder for half-price,” Amato added. “It will get it out there as fast as they can.”
Price will be a differentiator in the follow me drone market, he noted. “If Lily can make a dent in the market by starting at a low price,” he said, ” it seems like a smart business move.”