It’s no secret that both drones and selfies are popular. That’s why it’s a little bizarre that the makers of ROAM-e, a “flying selfie stick,” are running away from calling their portable unmanned aerial vehicle a “drone.” ROAM-e flies like a drone, records pictures and videos like a drone, but Ian Duffell, executive director of the IoT Group that designed the flying selfie device, says there is an important distinction.
“We all know drones fly around and take pictures, but because we’ve tailored it to be portable and in your space, it fits into a different category,” Duffell told Mashable. “Ideally, you’d operate it in your own space.”
Oh, yeah. And calling the device a flying selfie stick, because it’s tethered to stay within 25 meters of the user, may help avoid those nagging anti-drone regulations that are popping up in selfie-rich environments around the world. After all, there’s a zero-percent chance of being allowed to fly a drone off the edge of the Empire State Building for a mind-blowing above-the-city panorama shot. But how can the authorities object to you pulling out your flying selfie stick just for a second?
ROAM-e is not technically the first flying selfie device to hit the market. The Lily Camera also tries to distinguish itself from a drone, though it looks one hundred percent like one. The rotors on both the ROAM-e and the Lily Camera recede for easier transportation. But ROAM-e’s modest-but-not-inconsequential $267 price tag in the U.S. is more in the spirit of a selfie gadget than that of the sleeker-but-outrageous $899 Lily Camera. For some perspective, the current hand-based selfie sticks go for about $15.
Allowing that drones can be a little unwieldy and selfie sticks themselves totally humiliating, the “flying selfie stick” may catch on, even if it’s not for the reason Duffell thinks.
“The selfie stick’s problem is it’s confined by the length of the stick,” he said. “The thought was, let’s get the thing taking the picture flying with you.”
There’s no question that people are serious about their selfies, even $267 serious. But what happens when the flying selfie drones reach a selfie-stick level of ubiquity? They’re going to start crashing into each other, and we’ll have tourists brawling in the middle of Times Square. Those fights would inevitably be captured on dozens of flying selfie sticks, paving the way for a whole new genre of YouTube videos, which would in turn encourage others to go out and buy flying selfie sticks. Prepare, world. You ain’t seen nothing yet.