This article was first published in the July edition of Media Pulse – Omnicom Media Group’s monthly highlights on relevant media insights, intelligence and trends.
www.omnicommediagroupmediapulse.com

Personal drones are simultaneously the most loved and hated breakthrough technology of 2015. From award-winning short films to marketing tools, drones are suddenly responsible for some of the most compelling images and controversies of the year. What’s next in this emerging industry? How about a drone that works best when you simply throw it away.

The Lily is to selfie drones what the GoPro is to video cameras. It’s the first product from California startup Lily Robotics, founded by recent Berkeley grads and backed by a few notable names in Silicon Valley. Lily is the only drone that actually flies itself; all you have to do is hit the activation button, toss the gadget in the air, and watch as it hovers near you awaiting additional instructions. Unlike other drones, the simplicity is key for the beginner drone flyer. If the idea of a constantly-recording drone following you around feels a bit too Big Brother, you might change your mind when you sit down to review the slow-mo video of that sick kickflip you finally landed.

Capable of recording for 20 full minutes on a charge, the Lily can shoot 1080p video and moves up to 25mph. Not only is it waterproof, but it also seamlessly connects to an app you can activate from your phone or even your smartwatch. And the design quality of Lily is appealing: the X-shaped drone has arms that fold back so it fits into your backpack. At $499 preorder pricing (available in February 2016), it is one of the less expensive drones that provides high-quality video. the Lily is one of the most expensive drones out there, but extreme sports enthusiasts, in particular, are saying it’s worth it.

Will the mass market get behind an expensive, unpredictable piece of technology that’s designed to be literally thrown into the abyss? Early adopters love the hands-off nature of Lily and travel marketers would be wise to utilize its features to capture “candid” on-location moments. For the personal videographer, though, the usefulness of drones has yet to be proven. After all, how many selfies do you really need of the top of your head?