It's an app where drones meet selfies: Neurala, a company that produces patent-pending software, has created an iOS- and Android-friendly program that lets users take selfies with their drones. As a Boston-based tech-oriented creative firm with an aim to produce devices with "brains" and machines with a sense of autonomy, a drone selfie app certainly falls into that brand.
Called the "Dronie Selfie," the software was announced on Nov. 17 in tandem with the unveiling of the Parrot Bebop 2, a quadcopter that boasts a top-notch HD fish-eye camera positioned on a three-axis framework. According to a press release issued by Neurala, this seems to be a tad on purpose.
"We are disrupting the market," said company CEO Massimiliano Versace. "You don't need $1000 specialized self-flying camera drones plus a different drone for your flying hobby. You can buy a drone like the $500 Parrot Bebop, add our software, and use one drone for everything."
As mentioned above, Dronie Selfie relies on robotic autonomy to work: rather than use run-of-the-mill GPS programming or hardware available for most smartphones, Neurala's app parses what the drone "sees" through its embedded camera lens and uses that analysis to determine how to keep its eye on the prize — or rather, the subject that the drone is programmed to photograph.
So, how does the software do this in the first place? Simple: the app user selects the subject themselves via their smartphone or tablet interface. After that, it's a hands-free enterprise — the drone then has the knowledge (or AI parameters) it needs to follow the subject around on its own.
In addition to this, the software can also aid the unmanned aerial vehicle in taking "dronies," which are more or less a moving version of a selfie. Rather than taking a still photograph, the software enables the drone to fly around while focusing on a singular object, which is especially beneficial if the app user wants to get in some grandiose shots of some prime aerial vistas.
Dronie Selfie will officially launch on Apple's App Store and Google Play later this month; while the app costs $4.99, it will be available for the discounted price of $0.99 until Jan. 10.