The PowerUp guys on kickstarter created this sweet blutooth controlled RC paper airplane! $30 gets you in on the kickstarter. Looks like they hit the 80% mark on their goal In the first day. Shut up and take my money! UPDATE: This kickstarter has blown past their original goal of $50,000. As of this writing they are over the $600,000 mark. I love it when original thinking and hard work pay off!
The concept is pretty simple really. Just fold your favorite paper airplane and clip on this bluetooth controlled propeller with rudder. The "Smart Module" connects to your iPhone via bluetooth low energy. Speed and altitude are controlled with the throttle position on the app. The plane can be maneuvered left and right by tilting your iPhone.
The construction is designed with crashes in mind. The tail section is secured to the smart module with a carbon fiber tube. There is also a rubber bumper on the nose just incase you do a face plant into the ground. Just make sure you bring plenty of paper with you when your are learning to fly this thing.
The application has some pretty nifty built in features. It will tell you how much battery is remaining in the Smart Module and it will even tell you if your plane is getting too far away with a range indicator. About 180 feet is what can be expected for range. It looks like the only supported platforms are the various apple products (iPad (mini) and iPhones (4S and up)) with bluetooth 4.0 capability. Android platforms will be supported later.
The kickstarter says that you can get about 10 minutes per flight with the built in lithium polymer battery pack. Charging is accomplished via a micro usb connector on the back of the smart module. Some of the kickstarter packages even come with a portable battery back so that you can power up your PowerUp.
The only negatives of this design is that it is so compact. Being lightweight means that you will probably have to fly indoors or on a day with pretty much zero wind. The controls of the PowerUp are fairly limited as well. Left and right, fast and slow is whats available. If you are wanting to do fancy tricks, you probably need to get something with a few more options.
Overall, I think this is a pretty cool idea. I don't own this product, but I wish I did. I remember as a kid playing with those little $2 rubber band and balsa wood planes, wishing they would do a little more than glide. This obsession is why I have a half dozen of those little tiny RC helicopters. This kit allows you to bring life to your paper airplanes while allowing you to remain creative. Also, since the most breakable part is made of paper, you can afford to crash and redesign as much as you want. Even though the PowerUp will probably not satisfy a hardcore RC enthusiast, this toy will be sure to awaken your inner child!