DJI Goggles Up For Preorder: $449 Allows Drone Control With Just Head Movement Using PS4-Like VR Headset

Patrick Frye - Author

Aug. 22 2017, Updated 4:54 a.m. ET

DJI has confirmed its goggles, meant to offer first-person flying experience through its drones, are now available for preorder. The presale offer allows buyers to book the PS4-like headset for mere $449.

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DJI, a company that primarily offers precision controlled and professional drones, as well as other unmanned aerial vehicles, has put up its advanced headset up for preorder. The DJI Goggles offer a first-person, VR-like experience for users of the company’s various quadcopter variants. Essentially, the DJI Goggles put the drone user in a virtual cockpit of the remote-controlled drone, and various technologies built right into the headset allow for precision control as well as full panoramic and dynamic views through the camera mounted on the miniature unmanned aerial vehicle.

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As expected, the DJI Goggles are meant to work only on drones that DJI makes. Currently, Mavic Pro, Phantom 4, and Inspire series drones that are made by DJI are compatible with the DJI Goggles. They look quite similar to the PlayStation Virtual Reality (VR) headset that Sony introduced a while back.

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The headset also shares similar size, design and ergonomic features of the PS4 VR headset. The extra bulk is neatly utilized by DJI to pack the headset with multiple technologies. The built-in tech allows users to both fly the drone as well as control the camera perspective by remotely moving the gimbal on which the camera is mounted.

The embedded accelerometer and gyroscope gives a unique flying experience. Since these two technologies allow for independent control, users can control the camera as well as the drone separately. In other words, head movement changes the direction in which the camera is pointed. This technology is very similar to the one used in Apache combat helicopters, wherein the head and eye movement of the gunner directly controls the guns mounted below the helicopter.

The DJI Goggles are available for presale today and start shipping after May 20, 2017. The stereoscopic goggles offer two viewing modes. Users can see either in 720p resolution at 60 Frames Per Second (FPS) or choose a higher 1080p resolution at a slightly lower 30 FPS. Both the viewing resolutions have 110 milliseconds latency. Interestingly, the resolution is per eye. In other words, users will experience virtual flying at 1920×1080 resolution per eye. Unfortunately, the camera atop any DJI drone currently lacks depth perception. In other words, all DJI drones have a single camera setup. This means each eye will see the exact same image.

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Besides the high resolution real-time virtual flying experience, the goggles also feature a separate navigation touchpad and a headphone jack. If that’s not all, the goggles also have a micro SD card slot, a micro USB port as well as HDMI inputs to execute other functions. While the drones may have a limited flying time, the DJI Goggles can be used for about six hours due to a large battery built right into them.

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DJI has assured that looking through the goggles is similar to staring at a 16-inch home theater screen that has been placed about three meters away. Mavic Pro or Phantom 4 drones, as well as their cameras, can be wirelessly controlled using head movements. The camera will spin around its central axis and any head movement will also trigger the camera tilt or yaw. Mavic Pro drone can connect up to two goggles.

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Incidentally, users of the DJI Goggles won’t have full control over the drone’s flight path while the quadcopter is in head-tracking flight mode. Essentially, the drone will merely move forward at a preset speed, while the goggle user can turn it left or right. In case the goggle wearer requires, another user can control the gimbal while they fly the drone, reported Pocket-Lint.

Apart from the DJI Goggles, the company also introduced a three-axis camera stabilizer. Ronin 2, the successor to the highly successful and critically acclaimed multi-axial stabilizer Ronin, has more torque, hot-swappable batteries, an extremely light-weight carbon fiber monocoque frame, and the ability to quickly change the mounts. Ronin 2, aimed at professional filmmakers, is expected to be released in the second quarter of this year.

[Featured Image by DJI/Facebook]


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