DJI's $500 Spark Drone Launches From Your Palm

DJI Mavic Pro

The world's largest consumer drone maker, DJI, has introduced its new portable palm-sized unit named Spark on a big event in New York City this week.

Although the DJI Spark comes with a controller, you practically don't need it, thanks to its intuitive gesture controls. This means that it will be very easy to control even for those who have not flown a drone before.

The latter capability is important for further growth of the market for recreational drones, which is dominated by Shenzhen-based DJI, California's GoPro Inc., France's Parrot Drones SAS and Beijing-based Xiaomi Corp.

Spark also comes with a new mode called Coordinate, which sends the drone flying to a location you tap on your smartphone screen, along with a couple of new shooting modes.

DJI says it will start shipping orders in mid-June. It also counts with a 3D sensing system that can detect obstacles mid-flight in a range between 1 and 16 feet. It weighs 300 grammes, captures well at 30 feet high, and flies up to 31 miles per hour. The drone can fly for up to 16 minutes - the longest flight time for a drone this size, according to DJI. Sadly, speed demons should look elsewhere - the Spark tops out at 31MPH, well short of the 40MPH top speed you'll find on a Phantom. It is capable of video recording video at 1080p at 30 fps. It can fly through small spaces, like between library bookshelves or around a playground set.

At just a hair over half a pound (0.6 pounds to be precise), the Spark is incredibly transportable; throw it in your pocket, bag, backpack, purse, whatever.

The drone actively tracks its subject which adjusts the viewpoint of the camera. Finally in Helix it spirals away from a subject as it flies upward.

Don't let its small size fool you: Spark is pretty special.

For the courageous, there's the Sport mode which can kick the Spark up to 31mph. Here's where the gimbal switches to first-person view (FPV), so the camera moves with you as you fly. Rolling shutter and shakiness are reduced by the 2-axis mechanical gimbal and UltraSmooth technology. Pano will create horizontal and vertical panoramic shots while ShallowFocus will only focus on the subject of the photo while blurring the background. Frame your index finger and thumb together in that classic "picture frame" movement, and the Spark takes a picture. The idea is to create a shallow depth of field, and create a bokeh style image. It is also manageable by a mobile device or DJI goggles. It will also let users share videos directly on social media networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If the battery gets low, the connection with the controller is lost, or the user presses the "Return to Home" button, it uses Global Positioning System to navigate back to its launch point, avoiding obstacles along the way. The company's new motion mechanism called PalmControl allows the user to manoeuvre the Spark or snap a selfie by just using hand signals.

Spark will also give guidance on where there maybe be restrictions on using the drone, with its DJI's GEO System or NFZ geofencing.

The US retail price of a DJI Spark, including an aircraft, a battery, a USB charger and three pairs of propellers, is $499 Dollars.


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