You may be familiar with an ABC TV show known as Shark Tank. On this show, startups can petition “sharks” to buy portions of their company for fairly large sums to help them get off the ground. When drone manufacturer X Craft went on stage, they managed to convince the Sharks to hand them a cool $1.5 million in a huge deal involving the entire Shark crew, in exchange for 25% of the company, almost surely a majority share.
Their biggest plan with this capital is to create a new product that allows your smartphone to be the proverbial angel on your shoulder, the PhoneDrone. The folding, portable drone holds your device and is controlled by a companion app on your phone to fly autonomously or can be controlled in real time by pairing with another device, allowing your phone to go along for the ride. The drone uses fairly new takeoff and flight techniques developed in-house by X Craft, allowing it to keep up with users in most any situation. There was no word on the battery life, but the demonstration video showed the drone being operational for a minute or two at a time at fairly high altitude, possibly indicating fairly average battery life for this sector despite most of the drone’s body being taken up by a universal phone case.
X Craft had launched a Kickstarter for the PhoneDrone a while back, which failed to reach its goal. With the Shark Tank capital bridging the gap and a new, successful Kickstarter campaign, X Craft, a fairly small drone maker to be sure, now has the ability to take their focus off of their key products for a while to get the ambitious PhoneDrone off the ground, so to speak.
The applications for the drone shown in the video were mostly frivolous, but a drone carrying a smartphone could have some real impact on the way we interact with our gadgets. It’s not hard to imagine this drone meshing nicely with voice control apps like Cortana, Siri and Google Now to create a unique kind of automated buddy.
As the project is still in early phases, no exact release date or price was announced, but the minimum pledge to grab a unit on Kickstarter was $195, indicating a fairly premium price for a drone, but not in line with the highest-end models. The crew mentioned to the Shark Tank investors that they could retail it for around $300. It is touted as being compatible with iOS and Android phones, with no word so far on compatibility with Windows Phone, Blackberry or Tizen devices.