Apr 4, 2016 | By Alec

Tech conventions are always the best location to learn more about intruiging 3D printing startups and products, and The Gadget Show, held last weekend in Birmingham, UK, was no different. One of the highlights of the event was the British Inventors Project 2016, which seeks to showcase and highlight some of the best upcoming inventions in Britain. Among this year’s finalists was one very intruiging 3D printed entry: the Drone-in-a-Phone and Cam-on-a-Cable concept by Buzz Technology’s Senake Atureliya.

You might have come across Atureliya before, as the prolific inventor has already launched a number of intriguing 3D printing solutions through his company over the past few years. Based in North London, Buzz Technology Limited is a product conception, research and development business, and just a year ago Atureliya launched a very promising, though ultimately unsuccessfully Kickstarter campaign for a 3D printer that picks and places components during 3D printing.

Atureliya has been working on a variety of projects since then, and among others came up with this very intruiging next-gen smartphone camera solution, which consists of these two Drone-in-a-Phone and Cam-on-a-Cable applications. As the designer explained, he was looking for a flexible smartphone camera solution that allows you to use that one camera for more than one purpose. But it had to fit in your pocket, it had to applicable to drones and it had to bring smartphone camera quality to other applications. “Ideally 8 to 12MP rather than the typical 1 to 2MP found in micro drones today,” he says. Finally, it had to be easy enough for everyone to use.

And he came up with these very cool inventions. And the Drone-in-a-Phone is everything it sounds like. “[It’s] is a tethered microdrone that folds up and fits into a camera case. By moving the battery into the phonecase and using a folding mechanism, they have managed to reduce the size and weight of the drone to make it pocketable,” he explains. “This allowed us to create an ultra-lightweight, ultra-small drone. Power would be supplied up the tether to the drone and image signals back down it into the phone case.” Thanks to the smartphone battery, this drone has a significantly longer flight time than other small drones, and can’t be blown away in strong winds thanks to a tether.

It’s a fun little project that is currently gone through several prototypes already, in an attempt to optimize the folding motors and props. But as you can see in the clip below, it works quite nicely already. Atureliya is also filing patents. “We are still working to optimize the mechanical, electronic and software design before getting updated quotes for manufacture. The plan is to launched this innovation as a stand-alone phone case on Kickstarter soon and also ideally get it offered as a built-in option on the next generation of smart phones,” he says, anticipating a crowdfunding campaign in Q3 2016.

Related, but perhaps more potent is the Cam-on-a-Cable. “By putting one or more camera sensors onto a tether, they can be removed from the phone and fixed to pretty much anything – your glasses, your bike, the outside of your car or even the end of your finger. Multiple sensors with different lenses can be swapped onto the end of the tether to give you macro to fisheye capability,” the maker says. “The solution also eliminates the need for separate front and rear cameras – one sensor can just be turned to face backwards or forwards. Finally, as they are so lightweight, a slim 'selfie pole' can be built into a phone housing to just elevate the sensor, not the whole phone.”

This fun little application has been enabled by a combination of miniaturization solutions and the recent standards for smartphone connectivity. As you can imagine, it is perfect for using smartphone cameras in a variety of ways – attached to sunglasses, cars and more. Selfies will never be the same again. It is also still in its prototyping phase, but its potential is evident.

Atureliya is thus working on a number of very intruiging prototypes, and is currently looking to talk to smartphone manufacturers, CMOS sensor manufacturers, smartphone distributors, investors and the media to take it to the next level. If you’re interested in working with him, check out the Buzz Technology Limited website for more information.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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