Tech Innovation

New Selfie Drone Focuses on Capturing Moments as They Happen

Ken Kaplan Executive Editor, Intel iQ Twitter

Nixie, a prototype wearable drone camera for aerial selfies, wins top honors and $500,000 at Intel’s first Make it Wearable challenge.

While the wearable world was transfixed by a bevy of new, state-of-the-art devices, including Apple iWatch, HP and designer Michael Bastian’s MB Chronowing Smartwatch, Basis Peak and the Microsoft Band to name a few, the future of wearable technology was being shaped by 10 tiny startups competing as finalists for a half-million-dollar first prize.

Team Nixie, designer of the first wearable camera that unfolds and flies to capture awesome photos and videos before returning to its owner, was named the $500,000 grand prize winner of the Intel Make it Wearable challenge.

The global initiative, introduced by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at CES 2014, aims to fuel creativity and challenge innovators to evolve personal computing using Intel Edison technology, which is designed for makers of wearables and Internet of Things devices.

“We want to be the next point-and-shoot camera, one that gives you an amazing perspective because it can fly,” said Team Nixie’s Jelena Jovanovic on stage in San Francisco encircled by judges, which included (pictured below left to right) Hubert Joly of Best Buy, Stefan Olander of Nike+, Pauline Brown of LVMH Inc., tennis star Venus Williams of EleVen, Brian Krzanich of Intel, Brian Nohe of SMS Audio and Uri Minkoff of Rebecca Minkoff.


“We all use pictures to capture our moments. Nixie lets you capture the moment as it happens.”

In Follow Me mode, Nixie flies behind its owner, allowing the owner to focus on the moment and task at hand.

With the popularity of clip-on GoPro cameras, Nixie sees a niche where it can make an initial splash.

“We want to initially target Nixie to rock climbers because Nixie gives them amazing footage that they don’t get from any other perspective or any other camera.”

For Team Nixie, the Intel Edison development board brought new modes of tinkering and photographing the world.


The idea of Nixie was born just 10 days before the application deadline for the Make it Wearable competition. While still only a prototype with many development and business challenges ahead, the Nixie won over judges.

In interviews with Wired, judge Uri Minkoff said, “Once they get the product right and finished that, I think the business model becomes very clear,” and fellow judge Brian Nohe of SMS Audio agreed, saying it’s, “a product that is waiting to happen.”

When asked by judges if they’d rely on patents to fight off competition, the team replied, “No, we’ll just move fast and make it happen.”

The Nixie team said prize money would help them refine aspects of the device, including propellers and the overall size of the final product.

Second prize winner Open Bionics was awarded $200,000 for its open source 3-D printing and scanning that brings customized products to amputees for less than $1,000.

Their Ironman concept takes the common notion of a robotic arm to new levels, with creative artwork and lights built into the prosthetic.

“Wow,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, after Team Open Bionics told him that all their work was open source.

Third prize winner, and recipient of $100,000, ProGlove is offering an enterprise invention that seeks to reduce physical work stress, improve ergonomics and reduce costly workplace mistakes.

Team ProGlove told judges that with 2 million people working in manufacturing around the world, their smart glove has huge human and economic potential benefits. ProGlove is being piloted by BMW in Germany.

The Make it Wearable competition is helping Intel find talented people who might bring their visions to life using Intel Edison technology, according to Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Devices Group.

“Giving them those tools has helped them jumpstart what they’ve done,” said Bell in an article by Wired.

“By the same token they’ve given us a lot of feedback around changes they’d like to see in the development environment.”

Bell said he was blown away by what he saw

“The technology that you put in the stuff can be very similar, but there are a lot of nuances.”

To find new talent and speed innovation in wearables, Krzanich told the crowd that this first challenge won’t be the last.

“We will definitely do it again next year, but even bigger,” he said.

Click here to watch the entire webcast replay. Click play below to see highlights of the winners presenting to the judges.

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