We initially began thinking about HEXO+ because we needed a solution that would make aerial filming possible in the most remote places: on mountains, in the snow, and in all sorts of unpredictable situations that were quite a pain to deal with when trying to sync a drone pilot, a cameraman and a rider.
When we started toying with the idea, we realized that it had the potential to change the face of all kinds of aerial filming, making it dead simple. So we combined our expertise in action-sports movie-making, drone design and aeronautic software to create a drone capable of autonomously flying, filming and following, giving you access to amazing aerial shots with the bare minimum: a drone, a camera and an app on your smartphone.
HEXO+ is just that – an intelligent aerial follow camera: no pilot, no cameraman, no headache.
UPDATE! HEXO+ NOW WITH LIVE VIEW FRAMING!
CHECK OUT OUR STRETCH GOALS FOR INFO!
1. Frame your shot with a fingertip
Deciding how you want your aerial camera to frame your shot is ridiculously intuitive. A 3D model of your camera’s point of view lets you pinch to set the distance between your subject and your drone, slide laterally for panning and vertically for height. You can film yourself from the front, side, back and everywhere in between. All you need is your smartphone plus three intuitive gestures and you’re set.
2. Press start to fly in position
When you push your filming settings to your drone, it will automatically take off and fly to its specified position – and hover there until your subject starts moving. No pilot, no camera operator, just ready for action in an instant.
3. Let your drone follow and film you
Your drone is attuned to the slightest of movements, continuously repositioning itself to match the filming parameters you set for it. You now have an intelligent flying camera tracking your exact trajectory and filming your every move.
4. Get stupidly good-looking aerial shots
Land your drone, collect your clips and enjoy. Our technology guarantees extra-smooth stabilized camera movements, continuous perfect framing, and creates the possibility for angles that are virtually impossible to achieve with traditional means. Read: you now have the capability to film Hollywood-style aerial shots – and beyond.
Action sports lovers who want new angles without complicated logistics.
- Movie makers looking for creative angles.
- Anyone with a creative mind and a love for moving images.
Essentially, what we did was take the complexity and costs out of aerial filming to make it available for anyone. The combination of smart technology and considered design make HEXO+ the ideal solution for angles that will leave your viewers in awe.
- Easy to use: set the framing on your smartphone and lock your target, the drone does the rest; from auto take-off to auto landing.
- Smart and autonomous: no remote control necessary; HEXO+ automatically follows your movements to maintain the framing you defined.
- Designed for action: lightweight, foldable frame and legs, removable propellers and gimbal to fit in a backpack.
- Extra fast flight: up to 70 km/h - 45 mph top speed to track even the fastest subject. Wind tunnel tested for improved aerodynamics.
- Extra stable: hexacopter design and 2D brushless gimbal to ensure vibration-free, smooth filming.
- Safe: Fail-safe software features and six propellers mean a safe landing in case of a problem.
- GoPro compatible mount: built for the best action camera out there.
- Optional 360cam mount: aerial 360° photos and videos! About 360cam.
- Includes The Director's Toolkit: HEXO+ comes with a Garageband-like app to create filming scenarios with drag and drop, combinable camera movements: crane, 360° around you, dolly, far-to-close/close-to-far. Unleash your creativity.
- Dimensions: 62 x 52 x 12 cm - 24 x 20 x 5 inches
- Total weight: 980 g - 2.2 lbs
- Hexacopter design with 30° tilt propellers
- Speed range: up to 70 kmh - 45mph
- Flight time: 15 min with 3S battery, gimbal and GoPro attached
- Filming distance range: Technically, the drone can be as far from the GPS as 2 kilometers, but we advise you to research and respect your local regulations.
- Auto take-off and auto landing
- Trajectory anticipation
- Video target locking*
- GPS + onboard sensor position tracking
- Processor with MAVLINK protocol
- High performance 2D brushless gimbal
- Easy attach/detach from drone body for transportation
- GoPro mount
- GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition or Hero3 White Edition available
- iOS and Android versions
- Intuitive 3D framing or intuitive live view framing*
- Favorite framing presets
- Subject framing lock
- Emergency landing
* Only if stretch goal is reached!
You might think this is borderline magic, but it’s actually all orchestrated by a smart and lean use of technology. Our team has strong roots in critical aeronautic software development and that made HEXO+ possible.
On the smartphone side we have an intuitive interface for you to handle your drone easily, position it where you want in space and potentially (stretch goal!) wifi video live feed. This user interface is backed by trajectory anticipation algorithms that crunch data coming from the sensors on the drone and smartphone to predict the next, most likely position of the subject. This enables a quick, accurate tracking of the subject and is key in achieving great images. Finally, the smartphone and the drone communicate relative position to each other and data over the MAVLINK protocol, developed by the ETH in Zürich.
On the drone side of things, we have combined a drone that’s designed and optimised for aerial filming and action sports: robust construction, payload capacity and high speed and stability, thanks to the six tilted propellers. The onboard software is based on the 3D Robotics open-source code, and we optimised the MAVLINK implementation and the behavior of the drone to improve response time to commands sent from the mobile app. We also integrated over the air gimbal control to obtain the best possible camera angle based on the relative positions of the drone and the subject.
What we’ve done so far is take our initial idea to the stage of a working prototype: we’ve been ramming through hardware and software hurdles until last month, when we managed to consistently make our prototype work in field conditions. The drone is fast and agile, and the flight controller as responsive as we want it to be – from our action sport movie-making people perspective. The shots we obtained are just awesome and that’s what matters.
Our strong historical ties with the action sports community have given us extensive access to athletes and filmmakers and everyone is willing to support HEXO+. Why? Because they would all love to have a tool like HEXO+.
Now, taking the leap to industrial production requires funds that we can’t secure without your help. We need to pay for molds, minimum orders on parts and build. This accounts for $50k, the smallest budget we believe is necessary to make HEXO+ a reality, and starting at $499 apiece, an affordable one.
But that’s not all. We’re putting the project in the hands of the Kickstarter community because it is the best way to be directly in touch with the users of our product and build this together. If we reach our goal it’ll mean that there is a real need for HEXO+ and you’ll be the signal for that, so thanks in advance for your support.
Stretch goal 1: Live video feed in your smartphone. $250k – REACHED!
Instead of framing your shot within a 3D environment, simply turn your camera on and press launch in your app. Your drone will fly into its default position and the video will start streaming directly into your smartphone. On the live video, pinch to set the distance between you and your drone, slide laterally for panning and vertically for height. WYSIWYG framing!
Stretch Goal 2: The Director's Toolkit. $500K – REACHED!
We are developing an intuitive drag and drop editor of filming scenarii to program your HEXO+ to perform crane, dolly, pan, revolving and many other shots in a set sequence. A Garageband approach to filming
1. Create your custom camera movement
We are designing an app that contains virtually all camera movements – pan, tilt, crab, dolly, arc and 360° – as objects that you can drag and drop on a timeline. Combine movements with framings and set a trigger between each movement to tell the drone when to switch movements: either a set amount of time, a GPS location or a manual action in the app. This is a super intuitive and practical way to define what your shots will look like.
2. Launch your camera and let the magic happen
Once you push your scenario to your HEXO+, you have a camera that’s capable of movements that are normally only made possible by tools such as cranes, dollies and other devices – but without a single tie to the ground. This means you can replicate all the most impressive combinations of cinematic shots with the sheer simplicity of your HEXO+ system: a drone, a gimbal-mounted camera and an app. HEXO+ will start implementing your scenario according to the camera movements and triggers you programmed, autonomously. You can focus on the creative part of your filming and easily refine your drone’s behavior instead of wasting your time installing heavy, bulky and expensive equipment. We give you more time for actual shooting, less logistics.
With our Director’s Toolkit you can shoot hollywood-grade footage with DIY means.
Stretch Goal 3: User-based design upgrade. $1M – REACHED!
One thing we’ve been having a blast doing is interacting with you guys and learning more about what you expect HEXO+ to do. All of your feedback is a treasure for the project, as it helps us shape our system to your expectations and eventually deliver a product that will be awesome to use. On the other hand, the amount of funding we received thus far is so huge that it’s opening new possibilities for us.
So we’re here with more funds than expected and a wonderful community of users. What do we do?
Having reached $1M, we will work on a design upgrade of the existing HEXO+ system, based on your feedback. Expect better industrial design, user experience and performances.
Our team came together organically, thanks to our complementary skills and a converging vision to solve problems. We all have over 15 years of experience in our respective domains, and the breadth of our combined expertises is something we still marvel at to this day: from aeronautics software development to action-sports movie-making to drone building to startup management, here is the dedicated crew that brings you HEXO+.
Antoine Level - CEO & Business, Telecom & Electronic Engineer
Xavier De Le Rue - Professional Snowboarder & Action Sports Movie Maker
Matthieu Giraud - Movie Producer
Sylvain Montreuil - Business Design
Max Sarrazin - Graphic Design
Medhi Mugnier - Digital Project Management
Christophe Baillon - CTO
William Thielicke - Drone Developer and Racer
Laurent Mangue - Critical Onboard Software
Risks and challenges
The risks linked to this project are essentially risks you would find in any ambitious technological project when taken to an industrial scale. We worked to minimise risk in all aspects of the project, but some things are out of our hands at this stage:
— Despite the thorough effort we put in anticipating any potential problem ahead, there is always the possibility for unexpected, minor alterations having to be performed. This could lead to slight delays in lead time.
— We order components from suppliers that we trust, but things can happen on their premises that we can’t anticipate or control. This could lead to slight delays in lead time.
— Our software has been robustly tested in our lab and in real life, but we will undoubtedly encounter real-life issues that relate to use and environment: we plan to run beta testing early and improve our software constantly to maximize functionality.
This being said, we’ve put a lot of work in securing our development and production plans: we have safety margins and we are confident we can deliver HEXO+ by May 2015. Looking forward!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)