DJI's new palm-sized Spark can be controlled with hand gestures

DJI has announced Spark, a palm-sized quadcopter that can be controlled by hand gestures.

Aimed at beginners and budget-conscious drone-users, the Spark looks to pack a lot of punch in a tiny handheld package, while sending a clear message to their rivals in the entry-level drone market.

The standout feature of the Spark is the ability to control it using hand gestures with “Gesture Mode.” This allows the drone to launch from and land back in the palm of your hand, but in a first for the Chinese company the Spark can be flown with hand gestures alone. There's lots of other interesting features too, including the ability to make a portrait gesture with your hands to take a picture, and create a shallow depth of field effect.

More complex manoeuvres can be executed via a smartphone or tablet or using the dedicated Spark remote controller, though DJI maintains that most of the drone's functionality can be controlled by hand gestures.

In addition to hand gestures, the drone also includes intelligent flight options with pre-programmed flight paths and subject tracking. There's also built-in “3D Sensing” which DJI says will keep the drone from running into obstacles in front and below (there are no sensors above or behind).

Top speed is 50km/hr with a claimed 16 minute flight time.

The camera system is built around a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing 12-megapixel stills and 1080p video. A 25mm-equivalent lens is attached to a two-axis gimbal for stability.

The whole package, with battery, weighs just 300 grams, less than a can of Coke – pretty impressive.

Spark is available for pre-order on the DJI store now, and it will set you back A$859.00 for the drone-only package, or $1199 for the Combo pack which includes a controller, spare battery, battery charging hub, spare propellers and propeller guards.

The Spark is is available in five colours—Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red, and Sunrise Yellow – and is expected to begin shipping on 15 June 2017.

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