By Erica Fahr Campbell
November 3, 2014

Wearable cameras might be nothing new: the GoPro, a camera you can mount to just about anything, has been around since 2002, and 2014 saw the public releases of Google Glass and the Autographer. But now the developers of a new quadcopter drone hope to revolutionize the way we take photos of ourselves.

Called Nixie, this is a flying camera that straps on like a watch, but can dismount from your arm, shoot into the sky, take a photo, and fly right back again (thanks to a range of sensors powered by Intel’s Edison chip.)

The flying drone just won the grand prize at Intel’s Make it Wearable Challenge, after an open call for new wearable technology ideas that use the company’s flagship microchips.

The brainchild of Christoph Kohstall, a Postdoctoral researcher at Standford, and Jelena Jovanovic, formerly of Google, Nixie is still in the prototyping phase, but developers say it will weigh less than a tenth of a pound and capture HD quality images.

Nixie also boasts a panorama mode for aerial 360° arcs; a so-called “boomerang” mode for taking shots at programmed fixed distances from the owner; a “follow me” mode for, as the name implies, following the owner while they are in motion, and a “hover” mode for near-impossible high shots.

But this does raise some questions: Will Nixie be able to identify the owner in a crowded space? And while nailing algorithms for functionality is key, wearablilty is arguably equally important. Most importantly, the finished version of Nixie will have to integrate in its owner’s daily life. After all, a wearable drone camera will only really succeed if you can actually wear it.

One thing is sure: Intel’s $500,000 cash prize will help address these questions.


Erica Fahr Campbell is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME


Contact us at editors@time.com.

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