Last month we featured Queen B Robotics and, more specifically, the company’s new Exo360 drone. The Exo360 is slightly different to your standard photography UAV. It’s all set to be the world’s first 360° consumer drone, and is capable of capturing 4K spherical video for immersive playback experiences. Armed with five cameras and post flight stitching, this is as close to immersive virtual reality as you’re going to get with a drone.
We had a few questions for Queen B Robotics founder and CEO Chris Blower, on the Exo360, the emerging market of 360° drones, crowdfunding, and being at the forefront of UAV technology.
First up, as you may have read in our original article, it was unclear whether the 360° stitching took place in real time or after a flight has finished. Blower provided some clarification. “The user is able to look through each camera to view everything around the Exo360 while operating in autonomous modes,” he said. “We are aiming to offer real-time stitching as a firmware update or as a separate product within the next year.”
With that out of the way, Chris talked about the vision for Queen B Robotics, and why 360° video is a no-brainer for the consumer drones of the future. “At Queen B Robotics, we strive to bring the latest technology to our users. It can be either to help them make their memories more exciting to re-live or to reduce their workload for commercial applications,” he said.
Social media sharing combined with virtual reality is certainly a trend that we can expect to emerge throughout 2016 and beyond. “VR/360 is the next generation of film and photography, we have already seen Facebook and YouTube adopting these platforms as a new way for us to share our experiences and stories. We have built the Exo360 to make these experiences easier to get from recording to sharing.”
Despite this being a relatively new field within the consumer drone industry, there are already competitors, or at least expected competitors, on the block. One of those is a 360° video drone from DroneVolt, the Janus 360. Blower was quick to point out that however impressive the Janus might be, it’s not been designed, or indeed priced, for the consumer market.
At over $20,000, it’s easy to see agree. Blower said, “It’s an impressive piece of kit and has a lot to offer to cinematography applications. However, this platform is not intended for day-to-day use. The Exo360 is designed specifically for VR filmmakers, photographers, and businesses who want to offer VR footage in ultra-high definition, with a relatively low cost of entry for users to be able to take full advantage of this amazing technology.”
Another potential competitor in the 360° consumer space is GoPro. The much delayed Karma drone is expected at the end of the year and the company is rumoured to be working on a drone with 360-degree video capture capabilities. Blower said that “it will be interesting to see what they offer when the drone officially launches,”, but with nothing yet confirmed it’s difficult to speculate on what GoPro might offer.
Finally, I asked Chris about crowdfunding. Many startups look to source funds from websites such as IndieGoGo; indeed, Queen B Robotics has just raised over $40,000 from its Exo360 campaign. Crowdfunding now offers easy publicity and bundles of pre-orders, not just loyal backers. “The Exo360 brings together state-of-the-art in both drones and VR. We are excited to get it into the hands of our supporters in the upcoming months. We decided to use crowdfunding as it’s an amazing way to promote new and innovative technology,” he said.
Access to the future of technology for reduced prices is a big draw for many willing backers. “It’s also a way to say thanks to our early backers, by enabling them to be the first users to get their hands on their order. We are excited to share our technology with the masses, and crowdfunding communities, like Indiegogo, allow us to achieve this through hundreds of thousands of potential supporters! This is a great way to share our story and the product we have built.”
The standard Exo360 can be pre-ordered now for $999, while the 4K version will set you back $1399. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, shipping is expected in December 2016. For more information about the Queen B Robotics’ Exo360, read our feature here, or visit the crowdfunding campaign page.