Snap, creator of the Snapchat messaging app, has long positioned itself as a camera company.
On Thursday, he unveiled a steering wheel. Called Pixy, the drone camera can help people take selfies without using a selfie stick. Users hold the handheld camera in their palm and select a flight mode via a dial on the body of the device. The gadget then flies for a minute, taking photos and videos which it uploads to the user’s private Snapchat reader before landing in the user’s palm.
“It gives you a whole new perspective, actually allows you to have fun and spend time with your family and create videos all together,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in an interview.
Pixy is Snap’s first hardware product since Spectacles, which were glasses with built-in cameras and augmented reality features. The glasses debuted on multi-hour lineups in 2016, but ultimately underperformed. In 2021, Snap released a new version of Spectacles that lets people see augmented reality filters overlaid on the physical world.
Snap sells Pixy for $229.99, with additional batteries for $19.99 and a dual battery charger for $49.99. The company said it plans to sell the camera “while supplies last” in the United States and France.
In 2020, Amazon also announced a flying camera, the $249 Ring Always Home Cam. The surveillance drone flies around its owner’s home and records video, apparently for security purposes. He was immediately pilloried on social media as a privacy hazard.
Spiegel said he was unaware of the product from Amazon. He said Snap’s flying camera was not a privacy issue because its bright yellow color, recording of light and engine sounds made it visible.
“I don’t think there are privacy issues when it comes to recording other people without their knowledge,” he said.
Snap announced Pixy alongside a suite of augmented reality products – which overlay filters and visual effects on the real world – at its annual developer and advertiser event. It also introduced new tools for businesses that allow shoppers to virtually try on their products. Snap said people had interacted with its products to make augmented reality purchases 5 billion times since January 2021.
“We see our biggest opportunity over time to really reinvent the camera,” Spiegel said. “Pixy is a continuation of this experimentation and innovation around what the camera is capable of.”