This article titled “Is it a phone? Is it a drone? No, it’s a flone!” was written by Hannah Jane Parkinson, for theguardian.com on Thursday 24th July 2014 13.00 UTC
The artist Lot Amorós, and engineers Cristina Navarro and Alexandre Oliver won the Next Things award in 2013 for the Flone invention, an H-shaped airframe which transforms smartphones into airborne apparatus. It is able to fly up to 20 metres, and take photographs and video from above.
Flone has been designed to be cheap and simple to make. The airframe is wooden, and is powered by a standalone battery and four propellers.
"We tried to simplify all the technology of our drones , and also the way of controlling," Amorós told the BBC at the Sonar+D event in Barcelona.
An interesting feature of Flone is that the smartphone in the air is remotely controlled from a smartphone on the ground using the accompanying Android app and a Bluetooth connection.
"What we are seeking is to change a little bit the concept that drones are something that only people with money can afford," said Oliver.
Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) are everywhere, and their uses are as widespread as the ground they cover.
When drone-use first hit the public consciousness, it was usually in relation to military use and warfare. Now, people are waking up to the positive and creative possibilities of drones.
This month a competition run by National Geographic for drone photography produced stunning results. More drone pictures can be found on Dronestagram.
After the Fukishima nuclear disaster, a team from the University of Bristol designed a drone to measure levels of radiation.
In June, the Federal Aviation Administration in America even launched an investigation into whether a congressman had broken regulations after he used a drone to take his wedding photographs.
DIY drones are not new. Plenty of tutorials exist on how to build a drone, but with the Flone, Amorós, Navarro and Oliver have taken the pursuit of mass drone ownership to new heights.
Here's how to make your own Flone.
• Anki robotics founder Boris Sofman on why it's a small leap from zippy toys to self-drive cars – podcast
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