The Flying Selfie: Facial Recognition, Drone Camera Landing In U.S., Japan, Australia

A newly raised $12 million investment says people may want a selfie drone.

The flying camera, intended to take pictures of its owner, fits in the palm of a hand and can be controlled by an Android or iOS smartphone.

ROAM-e, proclaimed as the first selfie drone, has already amassed more than 250,000 pre-orders across Australia, Japan and the U.S. and is set to ship in August, according to published reports.

With such demand, the company behind ROAM-e is laying the groundwork for international production and distribution.

The company, IoT Group, is reported to have raised $12 million for the selfie drone segment of its business and has an exclusive agreement with one of the world’s largest drone manufacturers in China to manufacture 50,000 selfie drones per week.

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The group says it has signed a multimillion-dollar deal with a U.S. distributor to move tens of thousands of selfie drones to major retailers such as Walmart, Target and K-Mart and is aiming to become a top Christmas gift in 2016.

The $399 ROAM-e is about the size of a standard 20-ounce bottle of water and is designed to be light and portable for everyday use, according to IoT Group executive director Simon Kantor.

The difference between ROAM-e and other aerial cameras that can follow and capture images of their operator is in the tech specially designed for this device.

Rather than tethering the camera to the user’s phone, as is common in other similar products, ROAM-e uses facial-recognition software to identify and lock onto the user’s face to make sure they are in the photos and videos.

Although the main selling point is reliable selfies, ROAM-e also offers other potentially useful features, including real-time live-streaming video and 360-degree panoramic photos.

Flight times are about 20 minutes in selfie mode and 45 minutes in other modes. For those concerned about rogue face-tracking cameras in the air, ROAM-e is limited to a range of 10 feet from the user when in selfie mode.

No word on which retailers may decide to carry the selfie-drone or which agency may be tapped for its promotion.

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