Snap Pixy drone camera: price, specifications, release date

Snap is mostly known for its sticky social network consisting of fleeting messages and quite impressive augmented reality filters. But every now and then, Snap, which bills itself as a “camera company,” produces new hardware. Things get a little strange. This is one of those times.

Today, during its annual Snap Partner Summit, the company showed off a flying camera, the type of device also known as a drone. This flat, yellow plastic copter, dubbed the Pixy, was designed to pair with the Snapchat app, lift off of its owner’s palm, quickly snap a photo or video, and zoom back onto the person’s palm, likely at Coachella. The captured media is then shared wirelessly to Memories in the Snapchat app, where Snap’s signature AR filters and video effects can be applied.

The tiny drone costs $230. For $20 more you can buy a Pixy kit with two extra batteries. You’ll likely need the extra batteries, as a fully charged Pixy can complete between five and eight short flights before needing to be recharged. (A palm-sized drone that weighs less than a pound doesn’t exactly allow for large batteries.)

Photo: Snap

Pixy will appeal to a certain breed of Snap user, and Snap knows it too: It’s only selling a limited number of units, “while supplies last,” in the US and France. In an interview with WIRED about the drone and Snap’s broader AR goals, co-founder and chief technology officer Bobby Murphy declined to say how many he thinks will sell, although he says the company’s goal is “to create something that really resonates with our community.” That appears to be consistent with the company’s previous hardware efforts. From its Spectacles camera glasses, which were initially only available through a Snap-branded vending machine when they launched in 2016, to the AR glasses they unveiled last spring, which were only available to developers, Snap is very good in generating buzz, not necessarily revenue from its hardware business.

That doesn’t mean that the hardware products developed in Snap’s labs don’t have technological significance. Snap released video capture goggles years before the much more influential Meta. Last year’s AR-enabled glasses offered a glimpse of immersive and adorable AR lenses, as Snap calls them, viewed through the glasses on your face. This new Pixy drone uses computer vision and object recognition technology to identify people’s faces and body parts, allowing it to follow or “circle” around Pixy users, capture the best possible photo or video clip, and then do it itself in the palm of your hand can land hand.

“We look forward to continuing to develop Pixy and really uncovering all the different ways that a computer-assisted flying camera can add value,” says Murphy.

Still, the company made it clear both in conversation with Murphy and during Snap’s virtual partner summit today that its focus is clearly on its AR technology. Snap stands out in the broader social media landscape for a few reasons, and one of those reasons is its AR technology. (It’s also worth noting that Snap has many more millions of daily active users than Twitter, which sucked all the air out of the news this week due to the purchase of Elon Musk and the planned privatization of Twitter.)

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