At first glance, MeCam looks like it belongs in a research lab. It's a palm-sized quadrotor packing enough sensors to make it capable of autonomous flight, as well as a camera that can stream video to your smartphone. It can follow you around all by itself, shooting video of your life (or anything else you tell it to), and supposedly, it'll be available as soon as 2014 for as little as $50.
MeCam comes from a company called Always Innovating, well known for... Uh... I guess they make HDMI dongles and some slightly off-the-wall computer hardware? Anyway, they've made this little quadrotor, or have it at the prototype stage or something, and they're claiming that it can do some very impressive things:
More specifically, MeCam features:
- 14 sensors including side object detectors that enable "perfect and safe hovering."
- Voice control
- Autonomous person following
- Two (?) autopilots and a video stabilization system
- Autonomous panoramas
- Real-time streaming to mobile devices
- $50 MSRP, potential availability "by the beginning of 2014"
So MeCam would be pretty awesome. If it ever actually happens.
Strictly speaking, there isn't any specific reason why something like this couldn't exist. At least, I can't think of anything off the top of my head. All of the tech is out there: we've seen quadrotors that small, you can put sensors on 'em, they could be made autonomous, carry cameras, all that stuff. However, that we're questioning is the ability to integrate all of these things into a consumer-ready package for $50.
What worries us is the similarity between the MeCam and LumenLabs' eye3 camera drone. OBbviously, the platform is very different, but in both cases, we've got a company without a lot of robotics experience (that we know of) saying that it'll be able to produce an amazing product for very, very cheap. It's hard to say that it's impossible, which is what's so exciting about these projects, but the eye3 was quickly shown to be at least partially fraudulent, which just reinforces our belief that most things that sound too good to be true, are.
If Always Innovating successfully licenses the MeCam and it shows up in 2014 doing everything that it's supposed to be able to do for $50, we'll be super excited. Just thinking about what we could do with one of these is already getting us excited. All we're saying is, maybe don't put any money down on one of these until you see one in action.
[ MeCam ] via [ Liliputing ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.