By associate editor Elliot Smith:
Zurich-based company Perspective Robotics have announced an upcoming Indiegogo campaign to produce the Fotokite Phi, a consumer-focused version of their Fotokite ‘legally not a drone’ tethered UAV camera platform.
Actual details are a little thin on the ground at the moment as the campaign isn’t live on Indiegogo just yet, but the company is aiming to adapt their Fotokite Pro (‘Made for professional use cases and live broadcasting’) for a wider market.
The Fotokite is interesting because it offers a way to get aerial footage with an absolute minimum of special training and equipment. The airborne part of the unit is connected to the ground by a tether that also transmits power, meaning it’s possible to fly a camera for a lot longer than a battery-operated system. We took a look at the more expensive pro version of the Fotokite at NAB earlier this year:
Drone systems have been getting more and more accessible recently, with attendant worries about their improper use. It will be very interesting to see whether a radically simplified unit like the Fotokite Phi will broaden the appeal of the technology further, or fall foul of attempts to legislation to control UAVs and curb their use.
Full text of the announcement from Perspective Robotics:
Coming soon to Indiegogo … the Fotokite Phi
One of the most common requests we get is to release a consumer-friendly Fotokite – something affordable for folks who want to use one for photography, a hobby or just fun.
Early on, we made a conscious decision to build high-end tools before developing a consumer product. So while we’ve learned a lot by working with broadcasters and TV crews to make the Fotokite Pro, until now we haven’t had the time to properly develop a consumer version of the Fotokite.
Today, we’re excited to announce that in mid-August we will be unveiling just that – the Fotokite Phi, our first affordable, accessible tethered flying camera.
Based on the same GPS- and pilot-less technology used in the Fotokite Pro, the Phi (named after the golden ratio) enables users to quickly and painlessly fly a small camera such as a GoPro, take it anywhere and just have fun (without worrying about joysticks).
Pricing and features
Thanks to the tether, we’ve been able to considerably reduce the cost of manufacturing the Phi without having to compromise on quality.
It’s no fun for anyone when these things drop out of the sky. While keeping the price low, we’ve packed in a few really exciting features that we think will make the Phi a lot more practical and useful in “real life” (more about that when the crowdfunding campaign launches).
Crowdfunded by you!
The Phi will be crowdfunded on Indiegogo. The Phi is almost manufacture-ready, and will need some serious financial oomph to bring it through manufacturing and certification and get the economies of scale we need to get something affordable to market.