Admit it, when you were a kid, every time you launched a paper aeroplane you imagined what it would be like to actually pilot it. It's been quite a few years since you were a kid, though, and it turns out the technology to realise such a fantasy finally exists.
PowerUp Toys first revolutionised the paper aeroplane as we know it by creating a lightweight upgrade kit that added a motor and rudder to the craft, essentially turning it into an RC toy that could be piloted from a smartphone app. But technology marches on, electronics get smaller, and now PowerUp Toys has found a way to put a tiny live streaming camera on a paper aeroplane you fold yourself.
The PowerUp FPV swaps the pivoting rudder of the PowerUp 3.0 for a pair of independently-controlled propellers that are used to steer the craft left and right, and even gain altitude with quick bursts of power. But the most interesting upgrade here is a tiny video camera on top of the carbon fibre reinforced frame that can swivel a full 360-degrees.
PowerUp Toys actually worked with Parrot, known for its line of remote control drones, to help realise the best feature of the new FPV: live wifi video streaming to your smartphone at a full 30 frames per second. The wide-angle camera can record footage of your flight to a microSD card inside, but the real fun comes when you put your smartphone in a VR viewer like Google Cardboard and get a first-person view of the paper aeroplane while it's in flight — from up to 91 metres away.
The only thing better than annoying your co-workers by sending paper aeroplanes crashing into them is being able to see the reactions on their faces just before impact — and that's what the FPV allows you to do. Your upgraded paper aeroplane can be precisely piloted towards your target using on-screen controls on a connected smartphone, or steered using a heads-up display while you've got your touchscreen strapped to your face.
Battery life is expected to be around ten minutes of flight time per charge, but you can probably eek out a little more time in the air if you're not streaming video, and not pushing your plane to a max speed of up to 32 kilometres per hour. But where's the fun in that?
Here's the sad part, though: don't expect to find the PowerUp FPV under your tree come Christmas morning. It's being made available for pre-order through a Kickstarter campaign starting in November for $US200, but won't be arriving until the summer of 2016. That's a long time to wait, but it also gives you plenty of time to hone your origami skills and perfect the perfect paper aeroplane design. [PowerUp Toys]