When it comes to drones, is there a way for newcomers to navigate an overly saturated market? According to Montreal-based robotics company WowWee, there’s an entirely untapped market for niche gaming drones that are well-priced and well-balanced.
The company behind the popular MiP and Robosapien brands, has today launched its US$59 Lumi indoor gaming drone via an online Indiegogo campaign. Lumi is a self-stabilizing quadcopter that allows users to take off, land, navigate and perform aerial maneuvers using a corresponding app and propertietary BeaconSense navigation system. And through mobile games like Lumi to the Beat, kids can select a song stored on their phones and the drone will subsequently break into a modern dance-off. Meanwhile, a Choreography Mode allows users to create a sequence of aerial moves, control timing and customize light colors based on different songs.
These types of features are making WowWee’s Lumi competitive with popular toy drones like Sky Viper, according to brand manager Sydney Wiseman.
“We are aware of the crowded drone space, and we only wanted to enter it if we could bring something unique to the table,” says Wiseman. “BeaconSense technology gives Lumi context as to where it is in space and in relation to other items. Remote-controlled drones are super hard to fly and keep steady, and more expensive drones use an app and GPS chip to give them a sense of where they are that helps them self-stabilize. This is a low-cost solution to give drones a sense of where they actually are flying.”
And it’s through WowWee’s Indiegogo campaign that people will find Lumi in the first place. Wiseman says the goal of the fundraising effort–aside from raising US$25,000–is to get early innovators on-board in creating games and offering feedback on what interests them most.
Following the Indiegogo run, which will go through August, Lumi will hit retailers across North America in September with a slightly heftier price tag of US$79.
“Most of the camera drones are US$500. In the toy space, there aren’t so many drones yet, and this year we will be seeing more,” Wiseman says, adding that WowWee has sold more than 10 million Robosapien and Roboraptor items since the robot line launched in 2004. (Its MiPosaur bot was a 2016 Toy of the Year finalist.)
“Robosapien is still one of the best and most advanced robots for kids. Our main bread and butter is being a robotics company, but we always want our products to differ from what is already on the market.”