DJI made a big announcement recently with the unveiling of their new first person view equipment kit. The kit comes with a transmitter and camera, which allows you to attach it and use with pretty much anything. This has a wide range of uses, but the most exciting, and DJI’s main focus is on drones and racing drones. While being a fairly niche product, the advances in technology are very exciting to see, and have big implications for low latency, high quality streaming with drones.
The kit sells for $819 for the “FPV experience” or $929 for the “Fly More” version. The extras included in the “Fly More” kit is an included Phantom-style controller with built in hardware to allow for the low latency transmissions.
While there have been first person systems in the past, DJI’s version is a big improvement. The big difference is that it transmits in digital and not analog which the majority of the existing first person solutions use. Put simply, this means the video quality of the DJI system is miles above that its competitors. This system is also reportedly easy to install, which is a welcome change from other cumbersome solutions.
The FPV system allows users to stream 720p footage at 120 frames per second with only 28 milliseconds of latency. Considering it also has a range of up to 2.5 miles it’s easy to see why this is an exciting release. It also makes huge improvements to prevent hiccups and disconnections making the whole system more stable and user friendly.
The system also makes use of different techniques to ensure a good experience even if the connection degrades. Center mode for example, automatically lowers the quality of your peripheral vision, while maintaining the quality of the center of the view port. This is just one example; DJI has worked hard to make sure the system performs well even when conditions are less than ideal.
In addition to the streaming, it can also simultaneously record 720p at 60 frames per second and save it to a microSD card. The goggles also keep some of the playback, so in the event of a crash the user can use this backup to determine what happened, and not lose all of their footage.
The system is also said to come with 3 distinct view modes. Racing mode, which highlights bright objects to help with racing obstacles. The standard mode for day time use. Lastly, an LED mode for night time flying that is built to work in low light conditions. Another great feature that helps make the system more versatile and usable.
The big improvements here to quality and framerate make piloting a drone in first person significantly easier. Small obstacles like tree branches have always been difficult to see with lower quality systems, but the improvements here should make that less of an issue. It might also make the growing field of drone racing more compelling to watch as the camera can deliver a higher quality viewing experience to the audience.
As mentioned above, the system also has other uses outside of drones. At DJI’s demo of the product, they strapped it to an RC truck to show the versatility of the product.
DJI’s new first person pilot system is overall a big win over previous systems. The dramatic increase in quality that the digital transmission brings is in itself a huge win and sure to attract many users. Add to that it’s ease of install and the product’s versatility, and it looks like DJI has added another great product to their lineup for drone enthusiasts.