Each year, tech marches on with advanced features to further pervade our lives in connected ways. With this is mind, it’s not often that one comes across a new gadget that takes a completely different approach.
I stopped by the Powerup booth at CES 2014 and met with Shai Goitein, the inventor of the Powerup 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane. Yeah. Let that bounce in your head for a bit, especially if you missed seeing it up on Kickstarter.
The concept for the Powerup 3.0 originated over a decade ago. But at the time, as Shai mentioned, current technology wasn’t at the point to make the dream a reality. But once Bluetooth 4.0 emerged, he knew the time was right and pushed forward.
Paper airplanes may be something of a lost art. I grew up churning through reams of paper to make planes and fly them: in the house, on the street, or even in a huge field. Part of the appeal was trying out different folds to see what kind of improvements or actions you could get.
It was one of those things you did as a kid, because the good cartoons came on only at certain times. And rabbit-ear antenna were a terrible yet critical necessity too. Oh, the rage. Things are much different today than a couple of decades ago, but this little device is ready to bridge the gap.
The Powerup 3.0 is simply a Bluetooth receiver attached to a propeller and set of rudders. That’s it! Clip the front to the nose of your paper airplane, fire up the smartphone app, and you’re ready to fly.
Shai told me that flight demonstrations there around the booth weren’t that great, mostly because of their location around other booths and the South Hall walls.
But he did show how the app controls the speed and motion. I was surprised at the breeze coming off the propellers, which felt close to that of a handheld fan running off a pair of AA batteries.
When asked about the paper airplane design, Shai stated that the design they use is a simple yet effective standard for flight. It’s easy to tweak in terms of getting a neutral flight path so one can pilot effectively.
He assured me that the Powerup 3.0 can work with many other paper airplane designs, but not all designs will have the same ease or success. I’m pretty sure there will be a member forum for users to discuss and share designs and experiences.
As for the Powerup 3.0 Kickstarter project, it’s surpassed it’s original $50,000 goal by a million bucks! If you’re quick, you can set your pledge before the campaign ends in a matter of days.