DJI has developed the Spark, its first mini drone meant for average consumers to capture aerial photos and videos through hand gestures.
Dubbed as being "easy to use" for first-time fliers, the DJI Spark can be controlled entirely through hand gestures instead of a remote. The drone automatically enters Gesture Mode upon take-off, able to respond to hand movements to send it up and away, snap a selfie, or call it back.
"Controlling a camera drone with hand movements alone is a major step towards making aerial technology an intuitive part of everyone's daily life, from work and adventure to moments with friends and family," says Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI. "Spark's revolutionary new interface lets you effortlessly extend your point of view to the air, making it easier than ever to capture and share the world from new perspectives."
Weighing just 10.6 ounces - less than a can of soda - the miniature drone can launch in seconds, and can be operated by a remote controller or mobile device as an alternative if desired. The new QuickShot Intelligent Flight Mode makes creating professional videos fun and easy. Select a QuickShot, and Spark will fly along a preset flight path while recording a short video and tracking a subject along the way. Four QuickShots are available: Rocket, sending Spark straight up into the air with the camera pointed down; Dronie, flying up and away from your subject; Circle, rotating around the subject; and Helix, spiraling away from a subject as it flies upward. For each QuickShot, Spark will automatically create a 10-second video from your flight that is ready to share on social media.
Previously introduced Intelligent Flight Modes such as TapFly and ActiveTrack can also be found on Spark. Developed based on DJI's vision technology, a new TapFly sub mode called Coordinate allows Spark to fly to a location you tap on your mobile device screen. TapFly's Direction Mode lets you keep flying in the direction you tap on the screen. Using ActiveTrack, Spark will automatically recognize and track an object you choose, keeping it at the centre of the frame for perfect shots of objects in motion. Whether you are using TapFly or tracking a subject, Spark's 3D Sensing System will actively sense obstacles in front of the aircraft.
With the remote controller accessory, operators can switch to Sport Mode to enjoy flight speeds up to 50 kph. Sport Mode sets the gimbal to first-person view (FPV) by default, so the camera moves with you as you fly. Spark will also be compatible with DJI Goggles for an immersive FPV flight experience.
Spark houses a camera with a 1/2.3" CMOS sensor that captures 12MP photos and shoots stabilized HD 1,080p videos. The two-axis mechanical gimbal and UltraSmooth technology help reduce shake and rolling shutter effect.
Spark includes many previous DJI drone shooting modes with two new additions: Pano and ShallowFocus. In Pano Mode, the camera creates horizontal or vertical panoramas by automatically adjusting its gimbal and heading, taking a series of pictures and stitching them together. ShallowFocus allows you to put part of a picture into sharp focus while the rest of the image is softened, creating photographs with a shallow depth of field. An array of filters and automatic editing templates available in the DJI GO 4 app enables creators to quickly edit videos and share them directly to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Spark's FlightAutonomy system consists of the main camera, a downward-facing vision system, a forward-facing 3D Sensing System, dual-band GPS and GLONASS, a high-precision inertial measurement unit, and 24 powerful computing cores. These features allow Spark to hover accurately with vision system assistance at up to 30 meters and sense obstacles from up to five metres away.
Like all recent DJI drones, Spark can return to its home point automatically with a sufficient GPS signal. While using the remote controller, if the battery gets too low, connection is lost, or the operator presses the Return to Home (RTH) button, Spark flies back to the preset home point while sensing obstacles in its path. Spark also integrates DJI's GEO System or NFZ geofencing to provide you with up-to-date guidance on areas where flight may be limited by regulations or raise safety or security concerns.
Spark is powered by a high-energy density LiPo battery and has a maximum flight time of up to 16 minutes. When flying with the remote controller accessory, Spark allows for 720p real-time video transmission from up to two kilometres away.
The DJI Spark will be available in five colours: Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red, and Sunrise Yellow. The aircraft, along with a battery, USB charger, and three pairs of propellers, sells for US$500. The Spark Fly More Combo includes an aircraft, two batteries, four pairs of propellers, a remote controller, propeller guards, a charging hub, a shoulder bag and all necessary cables, with for US$700. Pricing and availability of other accessories for Spark will be announced at a later date. Spark will be available for pre-order at store.dji.com, four DJI Flagship Stores, and authorized dealers, and will start shipping in mid-June. The DJI Care Refresh for Spark is a new one-year coverage plan that will enable Spark customers to obtain up to two full replacements that are new or equivalent to new, for a small additional charge.