For a suggested retail price of $49, you will be able to ensure every move you make is captured on video. The palm-sized camera MeCam under development at Always Innovating Inc. will follow you around and take videos of you and your friends. You will be able to post these videos to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other social media site.
Always Innovating calls the MeCam a "self-video minicopter" in the video below. The camera can be operated by voice command, or it can be programmed to hover around you automatically. It has two autopilot algorithms and a Morpho Inc. video stabilizer. You upload video by streaming it to a smartphone or tablet.
The palm-sized MeCam, based on open-source software, will follow you around and shoot video. (Source: Always Innovating)
Details about the hardware are sketchy. Always Innovating says on its website that the MeCam has 14 sensors and three stabilization algorithms, offers "one-click true panorama," and works without a remote. The company did not respond to our requests for interviews or information.
In a press release unveiling the device in January, Always Innovating says the MeCam is run by a Cortex-A9 SoC. This ARM-based, low-power processor comes with up to four cores. The release doesn't says how many cores the device uses, but it does say the SoC module runs at anywhere from 1.0GHz to 1.5GHz, depending on configuration. That's a lot faster than the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 CPU, a measly 468MHz ARM9. The Cortex-A9 SoC module also includes 1Gbyte of RAM, an SD card, Bluetooth, and both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi.
But that's just the hardware. What really piqued my interest is the fact that the MeCam uses open-source Linux-based software. That seems a lot like the robot operating system we discussed in May. Always Innovating says on its webiste that it's not going to manufacture the MeCam. Instead, it is licensing "the device and its core module." If I were in robotics, I'd like to see what I could do with open-source software (especially a robot operating system) and a tiny quadricopter design platform. Of course, it depends on the licensing cost.
curious_device, it's all speculation at this point, but many of your fellow engineers disagree as shown by their comments below. According to your qualifications for what is and isn't hype, several well-known products that clearly exist from large, reputable companies that also clearly exist are all hype, too.
Be aware - The video shows a quadcopter taking off from a hand. That is all. Don't let hype fill in the blanks. Their price/power/capabilites claims are not backed-up by what information they have published. Its lack of sensors is another glaring issue.
curious_device, there's at least one working device already: it's shown in the video. And suspecting the reality of a new invention or something one hasn't seen before is certainly understandable. But belief is not required to make something true, a principle that new robot designs keep demonstrating.
There have been enough comments from actual product engineers saying that the reality of this product is more than a little suspect. How on earth did this vapourware device end up on the cover of the Design News Automation and Control supplement?!?
I would have waited until they show one working, even slightly working, before hyping their product to the max. Seeing it on the cover is just hard to believe!
William is right about batteries, but there is an alternative. Super caps have the energy to weight ratio needed to support the toy. Fly time, however, will be very limited--perhaps disappointingly so. Cruise time is certain to be under 10 minutes.
Four motor, remotely controlled toy copters exist today, and micro power Cypress PSOCs, like the new PSOC5LP or PSOC4 show that the control, smarts, and communication are available running on a trivial amount of power.
I suspect you're right, William, about there being only one prototype; but then, that's often the case. Regarding batteries, good question, but I have been surprised at how long many of the palm-sized flying quadrotors we've reported on can last.
We're talking a look at 10 of the coolest technologies being developed by the US military today. In addition to saving lives on the battlefield, don't be surprised if you see some of these in your daily life some time in the near future.
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