There's something intrinsically appealing about a choreographed blend of low and high tech. To wit, meet PowerUp 3.0: a Bluetooth 4.0 device that turns a bog-standard paper airplane into, well, a smartphone-controlled lean, mean flying machine. Or so its makers claim. And if those claims stack up pranking your teachers is about to get a whole lot more sophisticated.
What exactly is Power Up 3.0? It's a Bluetooth module that connects to a paper plane to act as both frame, propulsion/steering device, and Bluetooth communications hub - meaning the user can control the plane via their smartphone. The Micro-USB charged module is apparently good for 10 minutes of flying per charge, and has an 180 feet/55 metre comms range (i.e. between it and you, piloting it via Bluetooth link to your smartphone).
So far PowerUp 3.0′s aviation enthusiast makers have a working prototype and an iOS app but they've taken to Kickstarter to get the project off the ground (ho-ho). The campaign launched on Saturday and blasted past its $50,000 target in just eight hours, according to inventor Shai Goitein, so there's clearly considerable appetite for disruptions to paper-plane throwing mechanisms.
Or for a lower cost way of bagging yourself a remote-controlled airplane, which is basically what this is - albeit, not an ‘all weathers' aircraft. Soggy paper planes aren't going to go anywhere, app or no app.
At the time of writing PowerUp's Kickstarter funding total is soaring north of $135,000 (and climbing steadily) - if they reach $150,000 an Android app will also be baked.
The basic PowerUp 3.0 package costs $30 but all those pledge levels have been bagged by early backers, so the kit now costs from $40 - or more if you want extras like rechargeable power packs.
The current iOS app, which has been in the works for more than a year, includes a throttle lever for ascending/descending, and a tilt to steer function - which manipulates a small fin on the rear of the module to shift the plane's in-air trajectory. There can't be a paper-plane folding kid in the world that hasn't wished for such trajectory bending magic.
The module's frame is made of carbon fibre, so it can survive the inevitable crash landings - as well as be light enough for flight.
Backers of the PowerUp 3.0 can expect to be disrupting their lessons come May next year, when the kit is due to ship.