The last time I tried to fly a paper airplane was in fourth grade, and it was intercepted by a frenemy before it could reach my best friend across the classroom. Curses! This is a common issue with the old-school paper plane. They're finicky--easy to fold, hard to fly for more than five seconds.
The PowerUp 3.0 has been soaring around the convention halls at CES this week, and it brings the paper airplane game to a whole new level. It's an app-powered Bluetooth module with an attached rudder and propeller, and it clips onto an old-fashioned paper airplane that you make yourself. The whole unit only weighs a svelte 8 grams.
Yes, really. I'm talking about a tech-powered paper plane.
To fly the PowerUp, just launch the corresponding app on your smartphone and pair the device with your phone via Bluetooth. Turn the device on, clip it to a paper airplane, and then toss the plane as you normally would. It will whiz by at about 8 yards per second. To control its direction, just tilt your smartphone: The plane's rudder follows the motion of your phone's onboard gyroscope.
The PowerUp can stay airborne for about 10 minutes on a single battery charge, and has a range of about 180 feet.
The PowerUp 3.0 is available for pre-order through Kickstarter, though it has already surpassed its goal and is in production. The kit costs $50 and it includes the Bluetooth module, a micro USB charger, a few sheets of paper, and a booklet with paper airplane designs for you to try. It is scheduled to ship in May, with apps available for iOS and Android devices.