Thursday, March 17, 2016

SXSW™ 2016 Innovation Award - Lily Robotics camera

Copyright © Francoise Herrmann

Can you imagine a camera following you in mid-air and shooting a perfect video of you bungee jumping off a bridge, moguling down a black diamond hill, river rafting in turbulent water, or hang gliding like a bird?

Ok, but that's not all!.... When you have touched the ground, or you are at the bottom of the mogul hill, can you then imagine the camera gently landing on the palm of your hand like a falcon?

Imagine no mo’…. This is exactly what the throw and shoot, Lily Robotics, drone camera does!

Just throw it in the air like a ball and it will start to hover, and follow you around, taking videos. Then, when you are done, the camera gracefully lands on your hand, and not on the ground. 

WO2015179797 titled Unmanned aerial copter for photography and/or videography discloses this invention, which essentially consists of two components: an operator device and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) copter. 

The UAV copter is equipped with a portable power source, one or more image capturing devices, such as video camera(s), able to take videos. The UAV copter is further equipped with sensors, able to determine the elevation of both devices for the purposes of maintaining a preset difference in elevation, using the thrust power of the UAV copter propellers. 

The UAV copter is also able to recognize the location of the operator (or subject) wearing the operator device, and of tracking the subject in a photo frame using its one or more cameras pointed at the operator / subject. Thus, for the purpose of recognizing and tracking the operator, the operator device is equipped with ‘a barometer, a magnetometer, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a GPS module, or any combination thereof.” [0010]

Compared to the prior art of UAV video cameras, Lily resolves a number of issues. First, the operator is no longer a third person, alienated from the video scene, who manually operates the UAV via remote control. Since the Lily camera can automatically detect elevation and difference in elevation, and then automatically direct its camera at the operator, independently from a photographer/operator using a remote control for operating the UAV, the operator can also be subject of the video. That is, the operator can also be the skier moguling, the bungee jumper or the bride/groom at the wedding. This is an aspect of the invention called “third person camera perspective”. The shooting is from the perspective of the camera rather than from a “first person” photographer perspective.

Another aspect of the invention compared to the prior art concerns the means for calculating and setting elevation relative to the operator device, which contains a GPS or barometer or other positioning systems. Thus, rather than calculating elevation based on the ground, the Lily UAV copter can calculate elevation in mid air, and this is what enables video shooting of a hang glider, for example.  This is also what enables the UAV copter to adjust its position after it has been thrown up in the air.

Still another aspect of the Lily camera concerns the battery swapping pack. The UAV copter includes a backup battery, within the UAV battery compartment, to prevent all the parameters from resetting during battery pack swaps.

The Abstract for WO2015179797 titled Unmanned aerial copter for photography and/or videography, corresponding to the Lily UAV copter camera invention is included below with a figure drawing of the UAV copter, extracted from the patent. A short video is also included so you can see Lily in action.
Some embodiments include an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) copter for consumer photography or videography. The UAV copter can determine a first elevation of the UAV copter and a second elevation of an operator device. The UAV copter can adjust the first elevation by controlling thrust power of one or more propeller drivers to maintain a preset elevation difference between the first elevation and the second elevation. The UAV copter can locate a target subject relative to the UAV copter. The UAV copter can adjust at least one of the propeller drivers to point a first camera of the UAV copter at the operator device. In some embodiments, in response to detecting that the UAV copter has been thrown, the UAV copter can provide power adjustments for propeller drivers of the UAV copter to have the UAV copter reach a predetermined elevation above an operator device. [Abstract WO2015179797]
Naturally, this invention won an SXSW 2016 Innovation award in the Sci-fi no longer category! 

Introducing Lily

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