Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printed Prototypes Helped the Hexo+ Drone Take Action Sports to New Heights

ST Medical Devices

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There was so much to see at CE Week NY, that it was hard to take it all in. From multi-functional alarm clocks to tortilla toasters, there was a plethora of home technology on display at the convention. I recently wrote about Phazon, which allows you to take your tunes with you while running, swimming or engaged in other fitness-related activities. And while Bullz-i’s amino will help you take that post-workout selfie with ease, there was another product at the show that was specifically designed to capture shots for action sports. I’m talking about the Hexo+, an autonomous drone that follows your every move to capture that perfect shot.

Hexo+ is billed as ‘your self-flying camera.’ This isn’t a drone designed to kill. It’s designed to get hands-free aerial shots. Hexo+ isn’t like the racing quadcopters that thrilled attendees at CE Week, or a toy for RC enthusiasts. In fact, Hexo+ isn’t a quadcopter at all. It’s a hexacopter and its 6 rotors helps propel it through harsh conditions, so it won’t miss a thing. There’s no RC controller or complicated app to learn. Simply set your camera movements with a few taps in the Hexo+ app and you’re ready to go, the Hexo+ will do the rest automatically: takeoff, flight trajectory, landing and constant framing are all taken care of, so you can enjoy the moment, hands-free. And thanks to its built-in library of cinematic camera movements, Hexo+ enables users of any skill level to create compelling, professional-grade imagery using just the flight system and a GoPro camera.

This isn’t a micro drone and it’s not a humongous commercial drone, like the ones used to capture TV news. The Hexo+ is fairly large, but light and compact enough that it can be strapped to your backpack. The propellers are removable, as are the feet and gimbal. It’s a well engineered machine. I got to see the Hexo+ up close at the show and it was beautiful to behold.

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Hexo+ at CE Week NY

Like many of the products we cover at 3DPrint.com, Hexo+ was launched through a Kickstarter campaign. While Hexo+ sought $50K, they ended up raising over $1.3M. With a DIY kit priced at $299 and Early Bird ready-to-fly package starting at $499, it seemed like a good buy. Naturally, as with many crowdfunded tech products, there were delays getting the rewards to backers. However, all backer rewards have been shipped and it seems to be a great product, and 3D printing helped it get to the final design.

There have been some major updates since the Hexo+ Kickstarter. Hexo+ debuted some new features at CES, the Tracker and Magic Wand. Tracker enables the unit to film multiple subjects—and even change camera movements and shift its attention between subjects mid-flight. It also allows the unit to follow and film subjects while being controlled by a second party via the Hexo+ app. Simple and intuitive, the device is attached to the subject one wishes to film—be that an athlete or the family dog. Thanks to the Tracker, users can greatly expand Hexo+’s potential—and their own creativity. This is especially beneficial when filming environments and activities that have historically posed challenges such as surfing, kayaking, and other watersports.

Magic Wand was created with an emphasis on ease of operation, users control this new feature in the smartphone app by just tipping their hand. The Magic Wand gives users full control over the distance, angle, and altitude from which Hexo+ films them. It also enables users to further adjust these elements while Hexo+ is in flight. Not only does this provide greater control over the creative process, it also allows users to better avoid obstacles when filming in challenging terrain.

“We’re committed to empowering people, expanding the tools they have available to create exceptional aerial imagery,” says Antione Level, Hexo+ Co-Founder and CEO, “The Tracker and Magic Wand are our latest initiatives and we couldn’t be more excited to get them in their hands.”

Key Hexo+ product features include:

  • No remote control needed—control Hexo+ with just your smartphone and the Hexo+ app, which is available for Apple iOS 9 and Android 4.4 and above
  • Compatible with most GoPro camera models
  • Predictive tracking algorithms anticipate your next move
  • Operating altitude of up to 16,000 feet
  • Maximum speed of 45 mph
  • 6-propeller design for added stability and power
  • Quick and easy battery swap
  • Library of 12 pre-programmed camera movements, easily adjusted and fine-tuned.

Hexo+ can be purchased at their online store for $999 and up, although they are currently out of stock. Below is a video of the Hexo+:

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