Snapchat’s new Pixy drone takes the camera to new heights

29 Apr 2022

Pixy. Image: Snap

Pixy is the new Snapchat selfie drone that can follow users around and take videos without needing a controller.

Snapchat parent company Snap has unveiled a new pocket-sized drone camera, called Pixy, as it focuses more on the hardware side of its business.

The free flying device can fit in the palm of your hand and, with the tap of a button, can float, orbit, or follow you as you walk or run. When your photo or video session is over, Snap said the device gently lands back on the palm of your hand.

Compared to many other camera drones on the market, Pixy is a small device and does not require a controller to move around. Intended to be a companion to Snapchat, all content captured by Pixy is saved in the user’s app and can be accessed later to edit.

Pixy was unveiled at the Snapchat Partner Summit 2022 yesterday (28 April), where CEO Evan Spiegel revealed Snap’s ambitions to grow in the augmented reality (AR) space.

Three females staring at a floating Pixy drone device with one of them outstretching her arms towards it.

The Pixy can fit in the palm of your hand. Image: Snap

The drone is only available for purchase in the US and France, where it will set users back $230.

Snap also warned that owners of the devices will have to follow local rules when flying drones. For instance, people in the US must register their drones with the government. Flying drones is also prohibited in some parts of the two countries, such as Paris in France and the Grand Canyon in the US.

Back to (augmented) reality

Snap is doubling down on its efforts to attract developers to its platform, according to Reuters, offering a spate of free services such as increased storage that can help developers build more complex AR experiences.

The company is also working on new AR features in collaboration with retail brands to help customers try on clothes and accessories in AR on the Snapchat app before buying them.

It acquired Paris-based brain-computer interface start-up NextMind last month as part of plans to boost its AR research efforts.

Spiegel, who co-founded Snapchat in 2011, said that the app now has more than 600m monthly users – up 100m since last year – with more than 300m daily active users. It is also has a market cap of around $47bn, making it more valuable than Twitter even after the takeover offer by Elon Musk.

Although the company is setting its sights on AR with its app, Spectacles glasses and now Pixy, Spiegel said that he never uses the word ‘metaverse’ in Snap’s offices, according to the Guardian.

“The reason why we don’t use that word is because it’s pretty ambiguous and hypothetical. Just ask a room of people how to define it, and everyone’s definition is totally different,” he said. “Our fundamental bet is that people actually love the real world: they want to be together in person with their friends.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic