Back in 2017, reports surfaced that Snapchat had sought to acquire Zero Zero Robotics, which makes a range of camera-equipped drone devices, including a compact, foldable selfie-taking drone, designed to take your social media content to another level.
As you can see, Zero Zero’s Hover drone, which folds up to the size of a VHS tape, provides a range of options for recording all new types of content, which seems perfectly aligned to Snap’s camera and experience focus.
Snap never confirmed the reports in regards to its interest in Zero Zero Robotics, and it’s not listed as an investor in the company. But as noted, a partnership between the two does make some sense.
And now, the team from XDA Developers have uncovered some new, back-end code in the Snapchat app which refers to a new functionality called ‘Cheerio’, which XDA believes likely points to a coming Snap drone integration.
As explained by XDA Developers:
“A cursory look at these placeholder strings would indicate that cheerios is likely to be a drone. As The Information reported last year, Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. had revived its plans to work on a selfie drone. No information has been made available since then regarding if and when Snap has plans to start selling the drone, however, we can now confirm that development work is still in progress for this device.”
Indeed, The Information reported in March last year that Snap had revived its plans for building a selfie drone device. The Information reported that rather than acquiring Zero Zero Robotics, Snap had invested $20 million into the company instead, with a view to a future partnership that would see Zero Zero develop Snap branded selfie drones, connected back to the app.
Which could be interesting. Already, Snap has its own Spectacles camera-enabled glasses which provide an alternative way to capture your experience for uploading to Snap, with these compact drones potentially expanding your expression options, and providing a range of new visual expression tools for Snap users.
Of course, the grander vision for Snap’s camera tools is the integration of full AR functionality for Spectacles, enabling users to overlay their real-world view with the app’s digital effects Lenses. Snap’s still developing that option as well, but selfie drones could be another valuable, interesting Snap feature, and with the company already establishing production and distribution processes for Lenses, it’s not hard to imagine that these could be expanded to include a branded drone hardware offering.
Would users take them up? I mean, a lot depends on the price (the Hover 2 was listed at around $US400 back in 2018), but with its compact design and connection to Snap, you could see this being a potentially popular option.
And this is also considering the 2018 design of the device. It’s entirely feasible that advances made since then could see a Snap branded drone be much smaller and more compact, with even more features aligned to Snap use.
Imagine taking a video of yourself from the sky, with Snap’s World Lenses overlaid on your image, or capturing Snap’s AR art installations from a whole new perspective.
We asked Snap for any insight on the project, but it had nothing to share in regards to ‘rumor and speculation’ at this stage.