Paper airplanes go high-tech at CES

The humble paper airplane has just been given a digital upgrade.

Israeli firm PowerUp Toys showed off a paper plane equipped with some of the latest drone technology at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

“We are actually introducing first person view flight (FPV) to paper airplanes. So you experience flight as if you were a pilot but on a paper airplane that you folded, which is kind of crazy,” said PowerUp Toys CEO, Shai Goetein.

It’s certainly crazy, but Goetein thinks consumers will find it fascinating. A user folds the plane and then follows directions to install a power supply, an onboard computer, a propulsion system, a WiFi system, and a myriad of other flight technologies. The end result is a two ounce paper airplane turned drone that can be controlled using a smartphone. It’s launched by a simple swipe of your finger.

“The first experience is flight and control. We have two motors, you can go up down right and left and you have an app to control the airplane. This is done by WiFi streaming and we have a range up to 200 meters,” said Goetein.

The second option for controlling the paper airplane during flight is via a virtual reality (VR) headset. The smartphone is placed into the VR set up and then a user, says Goetein, can enjoy a truly unique flight experience.

“You control the airplane just by tilting your right, left, up and down. It is very intuitive. You feel like you are in a drivers seat. It’s actually easier than flying an RC [radio controlled] airplane,” he told Reuters.

The plane is made from heavy-duty paper, with a rod running through the centre. The rod connects the motor at the plane’s front to propellers at the back.

It will go on sale this year for $199 USD, or $149 USD without the headset. The company has raised over $460,000 USD on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Goetein says this will propel his paper airplane drones to previously undreamed of new heights.