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New tech adds power to your paper airplanes

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PowerUp 3.0 (Credit:Tailor Toys)

Bored with the traditional paper airplane? Debuting later this year is a new product that’ll give your folded creations a literal boost.

It’s called the PowerUp 3.0, and it’s an elegantly engineered device that turns any paper airplane -- absolutely any paper airplane -- into a motorized, iPhone-controlled, technological wonder.

Making its debut at this month’s New York Toy Fair, where it snagged a prestigious Best Of award from tech mag Popular Science, the PowerUp 3.0 is enough to get any papercraft geek or budding aeronautics engineer planning their next project. Although it looks simple -- a propeller, a lightweight carbon-fiber rod, and a battery -- it hides an embedded Bluetooth receiver that talks to an app running on your iPhone, allowing you to take the virtual wheel just by tilting your device.

“The thrill Of PowerUp 3.0 is that you take a piece of copier paper and turn it into a smart-phone controllable airplane,” creator Shai Goitein told us. “It is really easy to fly.”

Despite its Lilliputian size and lightweight battery, Goitein predicts the device will deliver between 10 and 15 minutes of uninterrupted flight time. We weren’t able to see it in action first-hand -- “it’s an outdoor toy,” he said, and downtown New York in February just isn’t the place -- but you can see it for yourself right here, in what look to be much more temperate surroundings:

Goitein’s company Tailor Toys is no stranger to paper airplanes, and as its name suggests, the PowerUp 3.0 is not the first motorized plane accessory the firm has launched. Already in stores is the original PowerUp, a similar-looking product that doesn’t have the remote-control feature and a capacitor-driven motor that’s only good for about 90 seconds of powered flight.

Tailor Toys provides instructions for a few suggested airplane designs, none of which require anything more exotic than a sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper and maybe a pair of scissors. But perhaps the coolest thing about the PowerUp is that it’ll work with any airplane design you care to dream up. As long as the fuselage is big enough to mount the hardware, you’re set.

How would it fare powering Ken Blackburn’s record-breaking glider, we wonder? We’ll have a little time to plan. The PowerUp 3.0 hits stores around September.

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