For just about any tech company, getting your products on physical and online shelves of the Apple store is a huge deal. So imagine the joy on Wang Mengqiu’s face when his Beijing-based start-up, Zero Zero Robotics, was approached by the big Cupertino giant, which wanted to sell Wang’s portable AI-powered drone.
“Apple products are ubiquitous because of its ease-of-use and intuitive design, which I’d like to think fit the description of our Hover Camera Passport too,” says Wang, a former software engineer at Twitter who moved back to China four years ago to “bridge the gap between the two countries” with his own robotics company.
The Hover Camera Passport is a super lightweight (242g) and portable (it folds in half into the shape of a VHS cassette tape) drone that can track people using a facial recognition software. There’s a 13-megapixel camera built in that can also take 360-degree photos and 4K video. The drone is basically an autonomous selfie stick that can get like 70 feet in the air.
The partnership with Apple brings about new features, too. The Hover Camera Pro is now fully compatible with Apple video editing software including iMovie and Final Cut Pro. Wang says you simply plug the drone into a MacBook or iMac for instant video sharing and editing.
Wang says he got the idea to build the Hover because he wanted to create something that allowed citizens to capture life’s moments from unusual angles — high above ground. With a PhD from Stanford and experience working at Alibaba on top of Twitter, Wang says his passion has always been building robotics, and his company will continue going down that route.
The Hover should prove to be popular because it’s got a range of modes. It can be operated manually (via a mobile app) like any other drone, but what makes it fun is it can, as mentioned earlier, follow you around as you walk, jog, skate, whatever.
The drone has a “Orbit” mode where it will circle around the subject in 360-degrees slowly, creating for a cool (and very hipster) videos.
Imagine using the Hover Camera Passport when you’re walking the Great Wall, or in the middle of Shibuya Crossing, or any other major world landmarks? Fun, right? Wang says it took his team more than two years to fine-tune the hardware and software.