Is this the end for selfie sticks?

An ever-growing list of locations has opted to ban selfie sticks. Source: Shutterstock.

FOR SOLO TRAVELERS and go-it-alone thrill seekers, the selfie stick remains an essential piece of kit. But can a new, high tech device persuade them to upgrade?

Instantly recognizable, the selfie stick (also called a monopod) can snap an Instagram-worthy self-portrait from any angle and still include a generous amount of background detail.

Yet, this nifty tool has earned a bad reputation.

Branded a nuisance and regarded as a risk to security and safety, an ever-growing list of locations has opted to ban the poles including galleries, museums, stadiums and theme parks. Nor are they welcome at historic sites like the Forbidden City in China and the Colosseum in Rome. But a new gadget hopes to succeed where this controversial accessory has failed.

Developed by AEE Aviation, the SELFLY, is a selfie drone that folds neatly into a 9mm-thin phone case. It is compatible with most Android and iOS smartphones and features a 13-megapixel camera and 1080p HD video. And unlike many drones, it is affordable at US$109.

It has impressive specs, but do drones like the SELFLY have what takes to win over solo travelers?

The benefits of selfie drones

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While a selfie stick will extend a user’s reach by around 34 to 55 inches (86.36cm to 139.7cm), a selfie drone takes it much further to within a range of 30 feet (9.1m).

So not only can they capture enviable selfies unaided, but epic panoramas and bird’s-eye view action shots too. And because the drones are remote-operated, all pictures can be taken safely.

No longer will travelers have to overextend or take risks to capture memorable moments on their trips.

When the drone is not in use, the four motors fold down and the whole device clips to the back of a smartphone – a useful advantage when space in a backpack is in short supply.

Lastly, and most importantly, the drones are easy to use. A smartphone app controls both height and rotation, so in theory, if a traveler can operate a touchscreen device, they will have no trouble maneuvering a drone or taking pictures by themselves.

But will they catch on?

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The promotional videos certainly pique interest and the benefits speak for themselves, but the selfie drone has a couple of limitations.

For instance, to use the drone, a Wi-Fi connection is needed to link it to a smartphone. In cities, towns, resorts and tourist hotspots this is less of a problem as Wi-Fi signal is stronger. Off the beaten track, however, travelers could be disappointed and left wishing they’d brought along their trusted monopod which relies on Bluetooth or an external wire rather than Wi-Fi, to connect the two devices and take pictures.

There is also the issue of acceptance.

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Although the technology is new, news outlets like the BBC are already asking if selfie drones too could be misused and pose a risk to safety. Similarly, places that currently ban selfie sticks may choose to err on the side of caution and extend restrictions to cover pocket-sized drones.

Nonetheless, the SELFLY and similar gadgets are innovations to look out for as manufacturers roll them out to the mass market. As for solo travelers, they may want to hang on to their selfie sticks. At least for a little while longer.