from the does-that-make-this-a-palm-pilot? dept.
What's the non-soyvertisement angle for this drone? Uh... you can spy on people with it!
The drone starts at a surprisingly accessible $499. That was really going to be the big sticking point here — with most pundits considering anything under $1,000 a good play for the company's generally high-quality but high-priced products. It's still not cheap, exactly, giving the number of budget drones that have flooded the market in recent years, but with all of the functionality the company has jammed into the thing, the Spark could well be DJI's first truly mainstream drone.
[...] [Aside] from size (which let's be honest, is the most important thing here), the Spark's got some pretty impressive tricks up its sleeves. It can take off from the palm of your hands and land back in it with little hassle. The demo of the functionality went exactly as planned, which isn't always the case at these sorts of events, especially given the swamp of cell phone signals that is Grand Central Station.
Even more impressive is a gesture-based control, about which the assembled press made audibly excited mumbled comparisons to Star Wars. And yeah, there's a selfie function, too. Smiling with you arms folded will trigger the picture taking functionality.
It's only capable of recording 1080p! No 4K = useless!
In related news, DJI users will apparently need to login and register their drones to activate certain features.
[Ed note: From what I've read, it is generally suggested to keep all active drones away from any persons — including yourself. What makes this drone so different? --martyb]
Drone hackers/researchers can modify the firmware for DJI drones, thanks to rogue DJI developers and a fork of a public Github repo:
Github rejected a DMCA takedown request from Chinese drone-maker DJI after someone forked source code left in the open by a naughty DJI developer, The Register can reveal.
This included AES keys permitting decryption of flight control firmware, which could allow drone fliers with technical skills to remove geofencing from the flight control software: this software prevents DJI drones from flying in certain areas such as the approach paths for airports, or near government buildings deemed to be sensitive.
Though the released key is not for the latest firmware version, The Register has seen evidence (detailed below) that drone hackers are already incorporating it in modified firmware available for anyone to download and flash to their drones.
[...] In fact the people who posted the keys to DJI's kingdom, as well as source code for various projects, were DJI devs. The company said in a later statement that they were sacked.
The code was forked by drone researcher Kevin Finisterre, who submitted a successful rebuttal to the takedown request on the grounds that Github's terms and conditions explicitly permit forking of public repos.
[...] Drone hackers have already begun distributing modded firmware for DJI's popular Phantom drones, as we can see on – where else? – Github
Related: DJI introduced new software to stop its drones from flying in restricted airspace.
Skip the Complex Tracking Software, DJI Says, and Give Drones an "Invisible" License Plate
$500 DJI Spark Drone can Take Off and Land from Your Palm
DJI Will Ground Drones If They Don't Apply a Software Update