Complex Made Simple

An affordable way to take selfies to the Xtreme

The next step in the selfie revolution is rearing its head.

This time, we’ve got drones to up our selfie game to the max.

AI-fueled selfies

The concept of selfie drones is nothing new – it’s been hovering in the news in recent years, like the notable 2015 ‘Lily’ autonomous drone (though the company eventually filed for liquidation).

That’s right – many, though not all, of these new devices hinge their novelty on the technology of AI, albeit a simplified architecture. These self-flying drones are autonomous enough to not crash into your face as you smile into the camera, processing live imagery into something a computer can understand, to avoid a collision and to follow a subject.

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Are they affordable yet?

Skydio R1 drone. Image: Skydio.

Today, the options are increasing, while the price is decreasing – somewhat.

More and more drones are making names for themselves, such as the American Skydio R1 and the Chinese DJI Spark Selfie Drone.

Skydio’s R1 top-of-the-line drone is priced at a whopping $1,999 (cheaper than its initial price of $2,499 in 2018), while cheaper options such as those by Italian-Chinese company AirSelfie range from $100 to $230.

AirSelfie made its debut in 2017, to a rocky reception, following lackluster reviews.

In 2019, it is hoping to readjust, debuting three new models at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019, a technology convention in Las Vegas. The two upper-end models, the Air Zen and Air Duo, employ autonomous flight technology, and are priced at $140 and $230 respectively.

They are still technologically limited, however, as AirSelfie’s models have a flight time between 6-7 minutes. The top complaints about the company’s initial models centered on the very brief flying duration, 3-5 minutes at the time, and the unresponsive app that controls it.

From left to right: Air 100, Aur Zen, and Air Duo. Image: BusinessWire

The Skydio R1 drone, however, offers a more top of the line experience, and the price tag reflects it. The R1 is clocking in around 16 minutes of fly time.

DJI, the Chinese drone leader, broke into the selfie drone market last year with its Spark Selfie drone, a feature-packed drone that clocks in an average of 13-16 minutes of flight time, with no autonomous capabilities. It does, however, allow for control through a phone app, a specialized controller, or even by gestures.

The Spark also comes with anti-collision technology that aids you in avoiding obstacles while driving it, which could be a telltale sign of a future AI-fueled iteration.

Its listed price is $399.

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Taking it even further


Image: Selfly

If you are cash strapped but still desperate to up your selfie game, then we have another option for you: the phone case that doubles as a selfie drone!

Also making an appearance at CES 2019, the quirkily-named Selfly will cost you $99, a steal considering the heads you’ll be turning at your next party or meet-up.

They are available for select iPhone Samsung Galaxy S models, and shed light on the potential next evolution of selfie drones.

It all started in the early 2010s

Finding mainstream popularity in the early 2010s, when the front-facing phone camera became common with devices such as the iPhone 4, the self-portrait known today as the “selfie” has truly permeated modern pop culture, and fueled the narcissistic tendencies of the modern generation. Further compounded by Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, we ended up with a staple of internet culture on our hands.

But, it hasn’t stopped there. Over the years, we’ve supplemented our self-snapping habit with new tools, most notably the selfie stick, which supposedly improved our selfie-taking.

Selfie drones are the natural evolution of this trend, and will need some time to properly cement themselves in modern culture. Price remains a major hurdle for manufacturers to overcome, and so does battery life and other technical limitations.

As these wrinkles are ironed out, we are likely to see the adoption rate of selfie drones to go up through the roof.

Could the next Oscars selfie be taken by a drone?

It very well might.

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