Following weeks of speculation, DJI unveiled Spark, a drone that is smaller and lighter than than its previous drones and can be controlled with hand gestures.
Announced in an event staged in Grand Central Station, the Spark is available for preorder starting today and is priced at $499. Earlier models such as the Mavic Pro were priced at $999 and above. The drone weighs about 11 ounces, giving it the approximate size and weight of a can of soda.
The Spark is designed to be a portable, affordable drone that could appeal to more consumers, thanks in good part to the sensors that can detect hand gestures up to 16 feet away. Users can can launch, guide, take photos, and land the drone without remote control devices. Beyond 16 feet, the Spark can be controlled by a smartphone app up to 1.2 miles away.
The drone includes features available on previous drones such as the ability to dodge obstacles and track a selected object to keep it at the center of the frame, and builds on them with new features that allow the Spark to maneuver or circle around a subject, as well as editing templates that can quickly create and share videos on the fly.
Spark’s camera includes a two-axis gimbal that can help stabilize images and a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor that captures 12 megapixel photos and shoots stabilized HD 1080p videos.
While not quite a game-changer, DJI’s Spark makes a clear step forward in the effort to make drones more of a mainstream consumer device. The low price alone could help consolidate DJI’s share of the drone market. According to Gartner, sales of drones are expected to rise 34 percent this year to $6 billion.
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