LAS VEGAS — Drones are everywhere at the International CES show. You can’t walk though the South Hall without hearing the feverish buzz of quadrocopter wings luring people to their booths.
Most of the new drones we’ve seen are either too expensive for normal people, or they’re cheap and lack compelling features. But after hours of searching we’ve found the one drone you should pay attention to in 2015: The Hexo+.
On the outside, Hexo+ doesn’t look too different from other drones, but it packs a killer “auto-follow” feature that will allow budding drone photographers to capture epic aerial videos without needing a dedicated pilot to frame each shot.
Auto-follow drones aren’t a totally new thing at CES. Other drones, like AirDog, also boast the capability. However, those drones use a small hardware tracker to leash your drone to you, where as Hexo+ just uses your iPhone to track. Also, instead of being limited to a simple set of instructions for distance and framing, Hexo+’s slick iOS app allows the photographer to create an entire storyboard, complete with 360-spins, pans and zooms.
The drone was designed by Hexo+ co-founder and seven-time world champion snowboarder, Xavier de Le Rue, who’s been using drones for years in his video production company. Frustrated by the the extra costs of a film crew and the lack of precision of human-controlled drones, the Hexo+ team set out to make a drone that’s ridiculously easy to use, so anyone can set out into the wilderness alone and come out with amazing footage that looks like it was shot by a helicopter photographer.
Here’s a sample of what you can shoot with Hexo+:
The hardware for Hexo+ is still in the prototype phase but de Le Rue told Cult of Mac the drone will fly for about 15 minutes on a single charge, and features quick-swap batteries so you can go all day. With your iPhone as the tether, Hexo+ has a 200-foot following range, but you can add an extra attachment and boost that to 1,500 feet.
An official release date still hasn’t been set, but the company plans to launch this summer after raising more than $1.3 million on kickstarter last year. You can pre-order your own unit for $1,149.