Once in a while you come across a product that’s so awesome you just want to try it immediately. We had the same response when we discovered the Lily Camera. When looking at the product you will probably spot some resemblance to various consumer quadcopter drones that are already available today. However Lily isn’t just your ordinary quadcopter, it’s your personal autonomous cameraman in the sky.
Antoine Balaresque, the creator of Lily, purposely avoid calling it a quadcopter or drone because these products often require an operator to control and are meant to be dispatched far away. With Lily things are quite different. It’s the world’s first autonomous flying camera that uses computer vision technology and GPS to track its user. Lily won’t need any human intervention.
It all started with the question: what if we could create a flying camera that would hover around us, capturing photos and videos at the same time? This sounded much like science fiction, but two years later the Lily Camera will be the company’s first flagship product. Although this camera is mainly constructed using off-the-shelf parts it offers some high-end features.
Shaped like a giant M&M with propellors and blue ‘eyes’ its design really stands out. Weighing around 1.3kg and measuring 8cm high and 26cm square it fits easily inside your backpack. The body looks rugged and is completely sealed, which means that apart from flying through the rain and snow, you can actually toss it into the water.
In order to capture high quality video and images Lily uses a Sony’s IMX117 1/2.3-inch image sensor to record Full HD 1080p videos at 60 frames per second and to shoot 12 Megapixel still images, both with digital image stabilisation. In order to operate autonomously, Lily also has multiple internal sensors such as accelerometer, three-axis gyro, barometer, GPS, and front- and bottom-facing cameras. What really fascinates us the technology that controls Lily.
Once you toss Lily into the air its motors will kick in automatically as the drone takes flight. There is no radio controller, or at least not a typical one with sticks and switches. Instead you will need to hold or wear a small puck shaped tracking device that relays your position, distance and speed via a Wi-Fi connection. Together with the onboard sensors and computer-vision algorithms, the tracking device determines how close or how high to fly, as well as where to follow and circle the user. Because Lily know’s your exact position, it can take off and land on your hand.
The tracking also has a built-in microphone that’s synced with the camera, allowing you to capture audio from the ground. For safety reasons, the drone has a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and it won’t fly higher than 50 feet or more than 100 feet away from the user. It also prevents itself from getting to close to objects or subject, by maintaining a 5-foot minimum distance. In case Lily gets out of range or runs out of battery juice, it will use its fail-safe landing feature.
Once Lily is locked onto your position, you can ask it to hold its position, to hover in place or to simply rotate to keep you in frame. You can also have it circling around you instead. By using the tracking device you can tell it where it needs to be or use it to zoom in or out. A mobile app for iOS and Android lets you program other flight paths as well as changing the camera’s settings. It will also allow you to edit share your video clips and photos.
If you want to be one of the first to experience the Lily Camera, you can pre-order online for $799 excluding shipment costs. Lily will arrive completely set up, and is ready to use out of the box. Overall we think this new flying camera brings in a new way for us to capture our snowboarding and skiing adventures.
- Features a solid Full HD image sensor.
- Cool looks, durable and well designed.
- Has a 4GB internal memory or SD card.
- A true must have for this winter season.
- Limited flying time of about 20 minutes.
- High price but also high end technology.
- Won't start shipping until February 2016.