Lily—a Menlo Park, California-based startup firm pioneering easy-to-use, self-flying camera technology—has unveiled the Lily Camera, described as the world’s first throw-and-shoot that flies itself.
Just throw the device into the air, and the Lily Camera deploys its four propellers that provide thrust and directional vectoring that allows it to automatically follow its owner with no controller required, allowing you to focus on your activity while Lily flies itself to capture your adventures, grabbing video and high definition images while hovering in place or flying at speeds up to 25 mph. That’s a lot faster than you can hoof it, and it’s great for activities like cycling, kayaking, or snowboarding.
Lily says the camera has been robustly engineered for tough aerial and water environments, and is built for outdoor action sports enthusiasts or for anyone who just wants a simple, fun way to record and share their everyday activities. Leveraging advanced computing algorithms and GPS, the Lily Camera intelligently tracks its owner, following his or her every move. With autonomous flight, Lily expands creative shooting opportunities well beyond handheld and action cameras with a single point-of-view.
“Point-and-shoot devices, action cameras, camcorders, and DSLRs have served us well on the ground and attached to drones, but we’ve always wanted a richer, more contextual point-of-view,” said Lily CEO and co-founder Antoine Balaresque. “Lily automatically creates exciting close range photos and wide, cinematic shots previously reserved for professional filmmakers.”
Totally freed from having to hold or maneuver a camera, the Lily user can be featured and included in shots ranging from casual outdoor activities to travel, snow, surf, golf, hiking, boating, and family adventures.
Lily’s optics feature 1080p HD video at 60 fps 120 fps and Slo-mo at 720p, with 12 MP resolution for still shots. The tracking device has a microphone that records high quality sound. Lily automatically synchronizes audio from the tracking device with video it records. Lily also streams low-resolution live video to the companion app to help you frame your shots.
The Lily Camera’s core technology is driven by proprietary computer vision algorithms. Optimal flying conditions are outdoors at 10-30 ft. It has been tested in winds above 20 mph (at the beach), but the engineers advise users not to operate their Lily Camera in winds above 15 mph.
Lily complies with FAA guidelines, and constantly communicates with the owner’s wearable tracking device which relays position, distance, and speed back to the built-in camera.
Lily recognizes the owner and “trains” itself to improve tracking accuracy over time. This technology enables Lily to fly completely autonomously, faithfully following its owner in the shot and delivering smooth footage. Lily tracks the tracking device and uses computer vision to optically follow your features. You need the tracking device on you for Lily to follow you.
Lily is also programmable and can receive directions via the tracking device or the mobile app. The camera is able to follow, loop, zoom, fly out, hover, and more with a nominal 20 minutes flying time per battery charge at an average speed of 15 mph. Flight time will vary between 18 minutes and 22 minutes, depending on how you use it.
Battery charge time is two hours for a full-charge. The tracking device will send you pulse vibrations when the battery is running low, allowing the user to summon Lily to make a graceful palm landing. If you don’t land it, Lily will smoothly land itself before running out of battery power.
The battery is a hermetically sealed unit and not removable in order to ensure waterproofness. Lily’s waterproof body is sealed and its motors are insulated, and the device also floats so you can safely land it on water (including salt water, but flush the motors after salt exposure). Lily’s waterproof rating is IP67, which means that you can take it one meter underwater and it will still perform as expected, but the engineers recommend that you not spin the motors underwater, noting that Lily is not a submarine.
Lily is engineered to take with you anywhere—designed to fit easily in a backpack and still handle high winds when flying. The propellers are designed with a tendency to bend but not break, but if they get damaged, you will be able to purchase new propellers from Lily’s website.
Lily co-founders Henry Bradlow and Antoine Balaresque met while studying computer science and working at the UC Berkeley Robotics Laboratory. The company, founded in 2013, is funded by institutional and private investors that include SV Angel, High Line Venture Partners, and Upside Partnership.
You can pre-order Lily today for $499 USD. After pre-sales are over, Lily will be priced at $999 plus applicable taxes and shipping. Note that pre-orders will be charged to your card immediately. Lily explains that creating and manufacturing a new device is expensive, and as a young company, being able to use the revenue from your pre-order to pay for things as they build them helps reduce risk to ensure they deliver the best possible product and customer service.
Lily will not collect your shipping information until it’s time to ship in case you move and change addresses between now and when Lily ships. They will ask for your address by email when Lily is ready to ship, making it less likely your Lily is sent to the wrong address. If you decide to cancel your pre-order before the device ships, Lily will provide a full refund.
Shipping charges are $20 for US, and $30 for international.
For more information, visit www.lily.camera.