New York based aviator and inventor at TailorToys, Shai Goitein, has developed an electric paper airplane conversion kit that allows users to control a traditional paper airplane through their smartphone for a flight time of up to 10 minutes.
In 2011, Shai Goitein, with a 25-year background in aviation and 10 years of industrial design experience, set up TailorToys and started creating his PowerUp Toys concept with the aim of bringing homemade paper toys into the 21st century. His first product – the PowerUp 2.0 – was an electric paper airplane conversion kit: a propeller unit that is folded inside a traditional paper airplane, enabling it to fly for 30 seconds or more.
However, Goitein wanted to develop a kit that would allow the plane to not only fly for longer but for it to be controlled via a smartphone app. So, for two years he has been working on the PowerUp 3.0. Fifty-seven prototypes later, in November 2013 he decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign in order to get the funding to bring it to market
The campaign ended two months ago and overshot its $50,000 goal 25 times over to reach $1,232,612, making it the sixth-most funded project in the Kickstarter ‘design category’.
Although strictly a toy, it has certainly resonated with grown-up children. Goitein attributes this to the ‘retromania’ appeal this paper airplane has. “Parents fondly remember the toys of their youth, and it’s always rewarding to see your children enjoy these activities as much as you did. PowerUp brings paper airplanes back to the mainstream by introducing the age-old tradition to children who may be more captivated by smartphone apps than old-school treasure maps,” he explains.
Once airborne, the plane is completely controlled through the smartphone app that has been designed to resemble a cockpit, complete with gauges and thrust lever. “PowerUp 3.0 is entirely app-controlled. Tilting the phone controls the high-precision rudder allowing your plane to go left or right. Sliding the thrust lever on the touch screen forward will increase propeller speed and will allow the airplane to gain and maintain altitude,” says Goitein.
If the plane does happen to crash or fly into something, the strong carbon-fibre frame will limit the damage.
Beta units of PowerUp 3.0 have been manufactured in China and were shipped to the Kickstarter backers in February. Any tweaks will then be made with the final product going on general sale in June.