Arguably the simplest aerial photography drone available, period. What may be considered by some to be a selfie-stick on steroids, the Fotokite Phi was designed to be as easy to operate as possible. Fold-out your drone, orient your camera, one-click to activate flight mode and your drone is airborne. Controlling the drone is done by way of a physical, retractable tether you hold. When you want to take a photo, click the button on the leash. Easy right?
Drone makers like DJI, 3D Robotics and Parrot along with an ever-growing number of startups are working hard to bring aerial photography to the masses. But, for however user-friendly the newest flying cameras are, they still require some amount of tech savviness to fly them.
The Fotokite Phi, on the other hand, greatly reduces the learning curve by essentially being a flying selfie stick. Designed by Perspective Robotics AG, the Phi landed on crowdfunding site Indiegogotoday and follows the same path as the company’s professional version in use by the BBC and other news outlets by eschewing a remote controller or mobile app for a simple retractable leash. And instead of having a built-in camera, it just uses a GoPro Hero3 or Hero4 camera.
Made to be ultraportable, the Phi folds down and fits entirely inside a tube roughly the size of a whisky bottle and with a camera it weighs just 350 grams (12.3 ounces). To get it ready to fly, you fold down the arms and twist a lock on top. Then you can attach a GoPro to the camera housing in front.
For basic, yet dead simple aerial photography, this is a great drone concept. It is still a concept though, currently at the crowdfunding stage at IndieGoGo.
The Fotokite Phi is currently on Indiegogo with a crowdfunding goal of $300,000. Early-bird backers can get one for $260, which converts to £165 and AU$355. Once those and its other early-bird contributions are gone, you can secure one for $350 (roughly AU$475 and £225). The company expects to be able to ship in early 2016.
This is a project I’d considered supporting, but as an owner of a DJI Phantom 3, I’m not really the target demographic. That being said, a lot of people are, especially with a $260-$350 price point.