About this project
Imagine the cutest gadget ever: an app controlled drone that responds to your smartphone or tablet commands in real-time. It allows you to see more than meets the eye and take pictures or videos of your aquatic experiences. Ziphius™ is easy to play with. Its processing power allows you to play augmented reality apps, where you can explore virtual worlds. Like a pet, it expresses its emotions and shows autonomous behaviors.
The ultimate aquatic gadget is here, so get your zillions of fun!
So check out Ziphius’ superpowers:
- FAST & POWERFUL: The turbines’ high performance make Ziphius a powerful being, fast like the wind, under ideal navigation conditions, it reaches up to 6 MPH.
- HYDRODYNAMIC: The optimized design makes it fluid like water, enabling Ziphius to always stay upright.
- LONG RANGE: The extra-sensory dorsal power scans the environment to find the matching signal from your smartphone or tablet. The WIFI range reaches 300 ft, depending on the environmental conditions and the WIFI performance of the users' mobile device.
- PLAYFUL: The user-friendly apps ensure great adventures. Autonomous behaviors make Ziphius smart enough to play catch or dance for you. Augmented Reality apps create enchanted gaming scenarios.
- CURIOUS: A 160º tilting angle HD camera lets it see above and below the water level. It also Includes a LED flash light to enhance vision in dark waters.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Ziphius is always taking pictures and videos to share with everyone. Upload your experiences directly to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook.
- ADORABLY CUTE: Its design is inspired by nature. Much like a pet, Ziphius mimics emotions through a set of programmable RGB led-light in its dorsal fin causing users to easily empathize with it.
Ziphius can be controlled by apps on most Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. These apps can do a lot more than just remote control the drone, they let you play with Augmented Reality games and artificial intelligent based apps.
The initial version of Ziphius will come with a remote control app that lets you pilot it and take pictures or video. There will also be another app that explores autonomous behavior and augmented reality. We will be rolling out an app development program to further explore the different personality traits of Ziphius so it can be a pirate, a ninja, an acrobat! Pretty much whatever the community can conjure up!
The ability to rapidly implement and release new apps exploring these features (and many others) was the reason we chose Unity as the development platform for the mobile devices’ software. Unity has an easy to use graphical development interface, a huge community of developers and it has free version for small sized companies. We also take advantage of the new Unity integration of YVision, a development platform for natural user interfaces (NUI) and augmented reality created by YDreams, Azorean´s parent company. These platforms will let us build innovative and engaging software to go with Ziphius.
Ziphius body is composed of two main parts: A black plastic structure and an Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) replaceable outfit. The black plastic structure contains all the electronics in a water-proof casing and is highly resistant to impact.
The EPP replaceable outfit plays an outstanding role in Ziphius aesthetics and functions. Not only does the replaceable outfit come in different shapes and colors, but also expands the Ziphius applications beyond unadulterated fun.
The outfit colors are limited to the ones normally available in EPP. For this Kickstarter campaign the standard Ziphius version comes with a yellow EPP outfit. We favored the color yellow because it is easily spotted in any type of water. However, we will also produce black outfits so you can change Ziphius and make it looks more high-tech. The black garments are only available in specific reward levels, depending on funding, we´ll produce more colors. The Ziphius' Kickstater exclusive edition will have a green outfit designed specifically for this campaign.
But the outfit´s role goes far beyond than just adding different colors to Ziphius. Indeed, the outfit shape can also be changed, so we can personalize your Ziphius with a completely different style. You can imagine a Ziphius™ with a shark fin, with a cup-holder insert for transporting drinks in the pool, or with an adapter for your GoPro™.
It is very easy to play with Ziphius. You just need to activate the app on your mobile device, establish a Wi-Fi connection and put Ziphius™ in the water, and it is ready to play. You can play with it in lakes, rivers, beaches and swimming pools. Alone or with a friend you will have zillions of fun!
But Ziphius is much more than a gadget for playing with the water. It can also be a radical companion for surfers and sailors, a scout for fishermen or a stealthy partner for photographers and nature lovers. It’s up to you to find the right use for your own Ziphius!
Ziphius has two fundamental components for normal operation – Ziphius itself and your smartphone or tablet. Below is the main technical information for the drone:
- Camera: HD 1080p camera on a servo motor allowing a tilt of 160º
- Processing: Raspberry Pi and ATMEGA microcontroller inside
- Video: Records full 1080p HD video on board and does video streaming on 720p
- Memory: 16 Gb MicroSD card in the standard version, not removable, it includes Ziphius sofware
- WiFi: includes a 802.11 access point on board
- Motors: Differential drive with independent control of two brushless DC motors with reverse
- Battery: LiFePO4 battery with approximately one hour autonomy under average conditions of use
- Flashlight: Strong LED to improve image quality
- Product Materials: Waterproof plastic structure and an EPP replaceable outfit
- Colors: White + Black + Yellow + Orange + Pink (the available colors will depend on funding)
- Weight: ~1,5 kg
- Size: ~25 cm (W) x 35 cm (L) x 15 cm (H)
The Ziphius concept was born in the summer of 2012 and since then we´ve prototyping and testing every detail of it. Ziphius has been tested in a diversity of environments with potential users, who have given us precious feedback.
The team’s experience in developing software and hardware, especially in the areas of Robotics, Augmented Reality and Natural User Interfaces has been an extremely valuable asset. It has permitted us to speed up Ziphius’ development without undermining the user experience.
Although we need your support to mass produce Ziphius, we've already embraced the manufacturing adventure. We've established close partnerships with mold companies and electronic suppliers as well as with certification entities. We are working closely with one of the world’s best mold making company, the Vangest Group, located in Portugal. This gives us a level of flexibility, which we would not have, if we were producing the Ziphius overseas. Together, we've established a detailed plan for Ziphius' production and launch. For the electronics component, Ziphius' BOM is finely detailed, which has allowed us to establish contacts with an ESM company to ensure Ziphius assembly and testing. We have involved a testing house from the beginning to minimize certification requirements.
- Phase 1: Pre-Industrial molds and production of final electronic boards - Scheduled completion Mid July 2013
- Phase 2: Product testing and refinements - Scheduled completion August 2013
- Phase 3: Industrial mold making and electronic boards production- Scheduled completion November 2013
- Phase 4: Mass production & assembling - Scheduled start December 2013
- Phase 5: Shipping - Scheduled March 2014
Over the last months, we've been working hard to have a functional prototype that shows all the unique features of Ziphius. We still have some refinements to work on, but we are close to the pre-industrial prototype. Now it’s time to take the next step: go into mass production and establish the distribution channels to sell it - and that’s why we need your support!
Mold production, assembly line creation, packaging, marketing and sales, distribution and logistics, are all key issues that require a large effort and big investments to successfully reach the market and we don't have the financial resources. We really believe that, with your help, we will be successfully funded and Ziphius will finally become a reality.
Ziphius is already a winner for all the wonderful people we have met since this adventure started. We'd like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way, particularly in kick starting this campaign:
- Oceanário de Lisboa Portugal for recording the vídeo;
- Algés Sport e Dafundo for the test sites and video recording;
- Nuno Sá for showing off the beauty of the Azorean Ocean;
- Distrim 2 for prototyping Ziphius really fast;
- Artica for working all night and weekends cutting the patterns forZiphius outfits;
- Antinome for the video production and Ziphius nurturing;
- Engadget for the Expand Insert Coin Competition prize
- YDreams for allowing Ziphius to come true.
A huge thanks to our friends and family: we couldn't have done this without you all.
Risks and challenges
Although we’ve taken all the steps to ensure a successful launch, production issues may arise. Our strategy to mitigate the risks involved is based on the following actions:
- Start early to create good relationships with external manufacturers and certification entities;
- Prototype and test Ziphius over and over again.
After being successfully funded, Ziphius may face the following risks:
- Design Changes
Ziphius’ design for the final molds is being finalized and will be subject to small changes. Although minor, these changes may imply a change in the product’s final look.
- Mass production delays
Mold making takes longer than expected. Before doing the final molds we need to test the final design in a new prototype version. Although the differences from our current prototype will be minor, unexpected problems may occur that can affect the schedule established with the mold-making manufacturers. We are testing every change in our current prototype to minimize such risk.
Receiving all the components. The electronic components are a special case of concern due to the diversity of manufacturers. We’ve minimized the risk by using reliable components and manufacturers, giving us flexibility and options in our supply chain. Although we are planning for some extra time this is always a risk.
- Certification delays
Any certification process does have the possibility of being delayed. We have involved a testing house from the beginning to minimize certification requirements. However the final tests will only start when we have a closed prototype.
We've set some extra time to account for these risks and for the inevitable Murphy Law. That’s why we are confident of reaching the quality goals and deadlines.
Equally important: we plan to keep our backers informed throughout the entire delivery process. Your support and involvement means a lot for this Ziphian adventure. Thanks a Zillion!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The card is not removable because we want to minimize problems with water leaking and therefore all the electronics are stored in a water-proof casing that needs to be sealed. Additionally, the SD card also contains the software that makes the Ziphius think and act.
We´ve chosen a 8GB card for the standard version to ensure that you could record 720p video for approximately one hour of play, which is the time the battery lasts. Nevertheless, due to popular demand, we´ve decided to double Ziphius memory capacity. So the standard version comes with a 16 Gb SD card and all the special editions come with a 64 GB of memory with the exception of the Light version, that comes with a 4GB SD card.
Ziphius does not dive, it floats. The development of a submersible drone would require at least one more motor and a way to deal with video streaming from underwater (which is not straight forward). We are thinking about how we can make it dive and already have some ideas that we will follow up on after the launch of Ziphius.
However, Ziphius does have a camera whose position is controlled by the mobile device (smartphone or tablet). When tilted downwards you can see what´s underwater and take pictures and videos. Besides that, it is really fun to watch and experience it surfing the waves or simply racing at the lake.
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