Fotokite Phi: Official Product Launch

Fotokite Phi Kite Drone

Zurich, Switzerland, November 29, 2016–Fotokite today announced the launch of the Fotokite Phi, the tethered, foldable quadcopter made for anybody who wants to take photos or video from the sky. As easy to fly as a kite and compatible with the most popular GoPro cameras (3/3+/4 and Hero5 Session), the Phi is available for a limited time at a price of $249.

“The Fotokite Phi gives everybody the power to capture bird’s-eye footage as quickly and easily as possible,” said CEO Chris McCall. “There are a ton of problems with traditional airborne camera systems – lengthy setup time, flyaways, reliability on GPS signals, difficulty flying indoors – and we wanted to solve as many of them as possible. The Phi’s combination of portability, usability and safety makes it the perfect companion for anybody who wants to tell stories from the sky.”

Invented at one of the world’s leading aerial robotics labs in Zurich, Switzerland, Fotokite aims to redesign how aerial robots interact with their users and the world around them. Fotokite’s early model was debuted on the TED stage in 2014, with several Fotokites being launched simultaneously on stage, highlighting the usability of the concept. After building a professional version for broadcast journalists, the company decided to build the Phi, a more affordable model designed for consumers. Following an over-subscribed Indiegogo campaign last year, the Fotokite Phi is now shipping and available to customers around the world who want a friendly, fun way to take aerial footage.

“We’re aiming to create a new, fresh category in the flying camera lineup,” said founder and CTO Sergei Lupashin. “The tether solves two big drone tech challenges – localization (where-am-I) and interaction (what-do-I-do) – in an intuitive way without requiring joysticks or a smartphone to control it. We’re incredibly excited to see folks use this device – and have fun while flying it – while on their adventures and travels.”

The Fotokite Phi is now available for purchase on Fotokite.com for a limited time offer of $249.

Key features of the Phi include:

Instant launch: To launch the Fotokite Phi, users simply point it in the direction they want it to go and give it a quick twist. Campaign backers that have already received the Phi have reported being able to fly it in cluttered, indoor settings within minutes.

Intuitive gesture control: The Fotokite’s core algorithms enable the device to fly itself on the end of the tether controlled only with simple gestures. Rather than relying on complicated joystick controls, often unpredictable camera tracking algorithms or GPS, the Fotokite uses the force of the tether to fly next to the user. Hold the yaw or orbit button on the leash and rotate your wrist – the Phi will follow your commands.

No Flyaways: The Fotokite Phi is always attached by a tether line to the user, preventing the common drone problem of flyaways. If the tether is cut, the Phi will automatically begin a controlled descent and power off upon landing. The Fotokite Phi will also give low battery alarms if you run low on power, and if it runs out of battery while you are flying, it will automatically land softly and turn off.

Sharable: The Phi can be shared between friends in the same way they’d share a kite. Simply hand off the tether to a friend, and the Phi will continue flying and recording footage seamlessly.

Built-in “follow me” mode: The Phi has a built-in “follow me” mode, allowing users to use the kite in windy conditions or to walk down the street, hike in the woods or even ski down a slope while recording videos and photos.

Foldable and portable: The Phi weighs 14 ounces including the GoPro 3/3+/4/Hero5 Session camera and battery, making it the lightest GoPro-carrying quadcopter on the market. The Fotokite Phi folds into a compact carrying case (about the size of a two liter soda bottle) and can easily fit in a backpack or suitcase. The Fotokite Phi comes with up to 100 feet of leash and a removable battery (13 minute flight time) that charges directly through a USB port.

Camera integration for GoPro Hero 3/3+/4: If a GoPro Hero 3/3+/4 camera is installed, it is powered by the Phi and automatically turns on when flying. Compatible cameras (Hero4, soon Hero 3/3+, Session 5) are controlled directly from the Fotokite Phi leash (video start/stop, photo capture).

Upgradable: the Fotokite Phi is completely field-firmware-upgradable and may be recalibrated for challenging settings such as high altitudes. The Fotokite team plans to release future firmware updates improving support for cameras such as the Session 5 and implementing other improvements.

Safe: Fotokite’s soft propellers turn at a lower rotation speed than traditional drones, reducing the disruptive noise typical to drones and making the Phi safer to use. Even if the Phi gets close to a wall or a tree, it can easily be pulled to safety with the tether.

Accountable: Many people are uncomfortable seeing unmanned vehicles flying overhead, but Fotokite’s tether makes it easy to identify the pilot and assign accountability for its movements. The tether makes it clear to bystanders who’s controlling the device, allowing for accountable aerial photography.