The sight of a drone is powerful. Even when a drone’s small, turned off, unarmed and resting on a table in a coffee shop, it can make people uneasy. That discomfort could change in the next few years as the airborne gadgets become commonplace and more people buy personal drones. Startups are already popping up with different takes on design, uses and price.
The latest aerial offering is the PlexiDrone by DreamQii, a midrange drone for photographers who don’t want to mess around with additional complicated technology. White and unremarkable-looking, the PlexiDrone is simple to put together — just snap in the four propellers and two pieces of landing gear. It can hold a GoPro, the drone photographer’s camera of choice because of its light weight, or other lightweight cameras and camcorders.
“This is not designed to be a toy; this is a tool for the average person to use,” said Klever Freire, founder of PlexiDrone, who showed off his creation last week in, yes, a coffee shop in Brooklyn. The consumer drone market is still wide open for newcomers due to a combination of tangled Federal Aviation Administration restrictions, high price tags, privacy concerns and a bad reputation.
Airborne photography is the most popular consumer use for drones, and the Phantom line from DJI currently dominates that field. DreamQii wants to take on the slick white and red Phantom drones with a slightly less expensive design and some quirky features. The PlexiDrone’s landing gear can be pulled up in flight so that a camera is able to capture a true 360-degree view without obstructions. Pilots can control the device from a smartphone or tablet, pointing to any direction on a map to set a route. The apps can also control the camera position and track flight hours.
When it’s not flying, the PlexiDrone is programmed to speak when turned on but not in the air. It spits out a mixture of warnings (such as your GPS is offline), explanations and casual chitchat in a British accent or voice of your choosing.