Computing

Snap Unveils Pixy, a $230 Pocket-Size Flying Camera Drone

Pixy, a flying drone camera, will fly back to your hand.
Snap

What's happening

Snap unveiled Pixy, a $230 pocket-size flying camera drone that can follow you around.

Why it matters

It's another example of how social media companies are getting more serious about releasing consumer hardware.

What's next

Pixy goes on sale Thursday in the US and France.

Snapchat has a new way for people to capture photos and videos: a flying camera drone called Pixy that fits in the palm of your hand.

The drone goes on sale Thursday on Pixy.com in the US and France, with the price starting at $230. Snap said drones pre-ordered will start to arrive by the end of May. Photos and videos captured on the drone will get downloaded into Snapchat Memories, where users are able to store content for later use.

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Pixy is another example of social media companies experimenting with consumer hardware products. Though Snapchat parent company Snap is known for the ephemeral-messaging app, Snap calls itself a camera company. Last year, Snap unveiled its latest pair of Spectacles, AR glasses that let creators overlay digital images onto their view of the real world. There have been rumors for years that Snap has been working on a selfie drone.

Snap unveiled Pixy at its fourth annual Partner Summit, an event the company is streaming online on Thursday.

To use the drone, people press a button and select one of several flight paths: hover, orbit, reveal, favorite and follow. If you select follow, for example, Pixy will follow you around as you go on a hike or walk around a city. Pixy will automatically take photos and videos during flight, but users can program Pixy to only take only videos. The drone will float in the air and capture images before flying back to the palm of your hand.

"Pixy is ready to fly at a moment's notice. There are no controllers. There's no complex setup. Simply set a flight path and let Pixy take it from there," Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in his keynote remarks, which was viewed by CNET before the conference.

Snap will have to convince its users to capture photos and videos on a product that hasn't become mainstream yet. There are products similar to Pixy for purchase that are also cheaper, such as Air Neo from AirSelfie, which costs $150, and more expensive drone cameras made by DJI. 

A Snapchat spokesperson said there are two flight packs available to buy online. The base flight pack costs $230 and comes with a bumper strap to carry the drone, a charging cord and a battery. There's also a bundled flight pack that costs $250 that includes everything in the base pack but also includes additional rechargeable batteries and a charger.

A battery costs $20 and a charger costs $50. The guide for Pixy doesn't say how much time the battery lasts, but it says it will allow you to capture content over five to eight flights. With 16GB of flash storage, Pixy can store up to 1,000 photos or up to 100 videos. The product is lightweight at 101 grams. Video is shot at 2.7K and the camera is 12 megapixels.

Videos shot on Pixy don't capture sound, but users will be able to edit the footage on Snapchat to include music, a voice-over and other effects.

Pixy also isn't water resistant and might not be able to complete its flight paths if there's too much wind. People are also advised to avoid using the drone over water, near highly reflective surfaces or where there's an abrupt change in elevation, such as a cliff or balcony.

Snapchat has more than 600 million monthly users and more than 330 million daily active users worldwide, the company said.