Small drones controlled by a smartphone and streaming their video directly to the mobile device are not a novelty. They are the perfect toy for the true geek. In the past, we took a look at Parrot's AR.Drone and its successors. They had the disadvantage that the small Quadtrocopter - priced around 300 euros - tore a huge hole in your wallet. The company Always Innovating want to address this issue, and announced an inexpensive ($49) Mini Quadrocopter.
Equipped with a board camera, capable of sending live images directly to your Android smartphone or share them on social networks using wireless LAN, features four propellers, and is fully competitive compared to its rivals. Even better: the Mecam - the small flying object's designation - can be controlled with simple voice commands and doesn't require a special software to maneuver it. If the drone is to follow its owner, it does the job based on the position of the smartphone. To enable a stable flight path, the Mecam features three stabilization algorithms and a total of 14 sensors.
The built-in hardware: a 1.5 GHz ARM Corex-A9 CPU and 1024 MB RAM. It communicates via WiFi and Bluetooth. The developers still haven't published the quadrocopter's autonomy (how long it can stay in the air). So far, the battery life of comparable devices is rather short. Parrot's AR.Drone 2 allows for a flying operation of merely six to eight minutes.
A further downer: it will still be quite a few months before the Mecam will be commercially availabe. According to Always Innovating, they're still looking for a licensing partner.
If everything goes according to plan, an optimistic release date would be somewhen next year.