One of the things that’s most frustrating with the drone market from the consumer’s point of view is the total lack of portability and readiness. The standard drone is something that you have to make plans to use. One doesn’t simply carry their drone around in their pocket, having it at the ready if the moment ever calls for having said drone with them. But that’s just the type of thinking that Selfly, makers of a pocketable camera drone that doubles as a smartphone case, hopes to create with their new product.
And at CES 2019, Selfly received major backing with the help of AEE Aviation Technology, one of the top brands in drone and camera technology. There, the two brands announced a collaboration that will result in the AEE SELFLY, a 9.8mm (just 0.38-inches) thin flying camera that’s controlled from the user’s smartphone. The product is currently listed on AEE’s website with a “coming soon” tag. In a statement given to us at CES, the company said it’s expected to ship with a $99 price tag.
Prior to getting a first-hand look at the product in Las Vegas, we had the opportunity to talk to Selfly, which was an entrant into the Last Gadget Standing competition at CES. Though it didn’t make it to the live portion of the show, speaking with Selfly’s inventor Hagay Klein offered us a unique look behind the brand’s mission and how the product came about. According to Klein, his idea behind Selfly was to give consumers a simple-to-use and inexpensive solution for on-the-go selfies that looked just as good as the ones a full-scale drone might be able to offer. The challenge, he said, was devising a way for the consumer to have that completed product with them at all times while not creating extra burden by forcing them to lug around some heavy or bulky gadget.
The result ended up being an ultra lightweight solution that does everything Klein hoped while also doubling as a smartphone case. Built directly into the case, creating an near perfectly smooth backside, the Selfly camera snaps out of the case and becomes an autonomous flying camera. As the camera hovers, the user connects to the device through a mobile app where they can adjust the camera angle and snap their photo.
“We set out to create a new camera concept; one that is always with you, leveraging the best drone technology,” Klein said in a statement. “Working in the partnership with AEE, a world leader in drone engineering and manufacturing, we’ve accomplished this with SELFLY, and I am proud to bring this to market at such an affordable price point.”
The Selfly drone works by simply snapping it out of the case, setting it in the air and letting go. From there, the drone has “advanced auto hovering stability” that allows the device to remain balanced and stable—which helps with taking smooth photos and video. Selfly has gesture control functionality and the ability to follow the user based on facial recognition technology built into the camera. The only thing potentially holding the camera back is a tiny battery (which isn’t surprising given the slim design). The Selfly supports two lithium ion batteries that provide up to four minutes of flight time each with an approximate recharge time of 30 minutes. Storage on board is expandable through an SD card slot, and users can live stream at 720p through their connected Android or iOS device.