The AEE SELFLY is the most novel idea showcased at CES 2018 and may just be the most unconventional smartphone case ever created.
The Consumer Electronics Show is traditionally the best annual opportunity to glimpse a wide variety of gadgets and technologies set to be commercialized in the near future, many of which may push their respective product categories forward and even have the potential to change entire industries. The newly showcased AEE SELFLY is definitely not one such device, but that doesn't mean it's not incredible in its own right.
Created in collaboration of AEE Aviation Technology and SELFLY Camera, the newly announced AEE SELFLY is a smartphone case that's also a drone you can control with the very handset it protects. Well, part of it is meant to protect a phone, with the other component being a detachable drone with 1080p recording capabilities intended to be used as a selfie-taking tool which is said to be more versatile than a selfie stick. While that claim is highly debatable, the novelty factor of the AEE SELFLY is irrefutable, making the device incredibly entertaining to use even though it has limited applications and comes with a heavy price tag.
The idea of making a smartphone case with a flying component is problematic on numerous levels, which is all the more reason why the fact that the AEE SELFLY actually got made is incredible. For starters, there's the (in)convenience factor; the case isn't exactly highly ergonomic regardless of whether it's housing its drone or the unmanned aircraft is detached from it, making the very experience of holding your smartphone less than great. Secondly, the drone itself can't stay in the air for more than four minutes on a single battery charge, so it's a hard sell even as a dedicated selfie tool; if your target audience solely consists of people willing to shell out $130 to take their selfie photography to the next level, limiting them to four-minute selfie sessions probably isn't the best idea, even though the AEE SELFLY ships with two batteries so that users can always carry a spare. Finally, a plastic brick with a plastic drone loosely attached to it isn't the best option for actually protecting a smartphone. Sure, the AEE SELFLY isn't advertised as a "protective" case but if anything, you'll have to be even more careful when handling your handset if you decide to attach one to it and you'll have a bad time if you expect its embedded drone to stay functional should you end up dropping it.
Still, the very fact that drone and imaging technologies are now advanced enough to allow for a flying FHD camera to be implemented into a smartphone case — even if an extremely bulky one — is fantastic. Granted, while the AEE SELFLY can take off from your palm and fly in your immediate vicinity for a few minutes, it almost certainly won't take off with consumers once it's released later this quarter but that doesn't make this bizarre invention any less unconventional or entertaining, ultimately making it the most novel consumer-grade technology showcased at CES 2018.