The word selfie was first seen in print on an Australian news site in 2002. By 2005, with the growing popularity of Facebook, the term selfie was also starting to become more common. When Apple released the iPhone 1 in 2007, selfie was starting to make it to the mainstream. Photographers began using forms of selfie sticks back in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Yeong-Ming Wang patented an extendable selfie stick that could be used with smartphones. That same year Oxford Dictionaries declared selfie as the word of the year. Today social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok dominate much of our lives, and all of these platforms largely depend on selfies. But as we wrap up the first year of this new decade, how do we take selfies to the next level?
Not long ago, Neil Lesher of Woodmere, New York came up with an idea that will revolutionize the way selfies are taken. His father who suffered from arthritis was having a hard time handling his iPhone. Holding the phone up so that he could have a FaceTime call with his grandchildren was too uncomfortable for his hands. “When my Dad got frustrated, I thought about how amazing it would be if he could have a hands-free, hovering FaceTime call with my kids,” Neil said. “And so, PhoneQuad was born and I then quickly realized the many use cases there could be.”
Neil has had a successful carer as a Market Data Analyst but has always had a fondness for drones. Taking his business knowledge and hobby, he came up with an idea to create a drone phone case hybrid. Neil reached out to aviation and airspace experts xCraft based out of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. xCraft specializes in custom drone designs to fit niche markets. With the help of xCraft, Neil was granted a patent for the PhoneQuad in June 2020. After months of quarantining, Niel’s father would have a way to comfortably FaceTime with his grandchildren with a drone built into his phone case.
The drone case adds about an extra 3 inches to the bulk of a smartphone when closed. When ready to take a selfie or a video call, the flaps simply need to be opened up and the drone’s rotors will initiate, pushing air downward to hover. The drone will keep the phone in the position you place it, remaining steady for a high quality image. The drone’s rotor blades are completely encased so there is no risk of injury. They are also specially designed to be silent, otherwise there would be no way to carry out a conversation or film a video. The drone can be controlled with Bluetooth enabled ear-pods and a microphone. This will allow the user to verbally command the drone to focus the camera on a subject and then capture a photo or begin filming.
While Neil initially came up with the concept of a drone selfie phone case to help his father’s limited hand functions, he quickly realized just how much he could benefit from it, and in turn, the many fields in which a drone phone case could be applied. He saw that in many of the family pictures he had on his phone’s camera roll, he was absent from most of them. Somebody had to take the picture, a job that usually went to him. With the PhoneQuad, if Neil wants to be in a family photo he no longer needs to pass his phone to a potential stranger to take the picture. “As the parent of an athletic child, we spend many weekends at the sports field taking pics and videos, always with my arm fully extended and tired,” Neil said. Now all he has to do is “position PhoneQuad toward the field, focus, and let go. Now you can sit in your chair, watch the game and never miss an important play.”
PhoneQuad embraces society’s obsession with selfies and the growing trend of drone technology. It is a perfect progression befitting of a world that needs to maintain social distancing while still finding ways to connect. Whether you want to have a video conversation, film the latest Tik Tok dance, or chronicle your day to share on social media, you can now do it in total selfie mode, hands-free. As Neil states, “We are incredibly excited to be among the pioneers of the UAV/Drone sector changing the way the world views, uses and benefits from Autonomous Technology in many forms. Our platform, PhoneQuad allows the global smartphone user community to truly ‘Let Go’ of their phones for an awe inspiring and literal ‘Hands-Free’ conversation, picture, and video experience.”