I will be the first to admit I have trouble trusting the rear view camera in my car. The latency is near zero and I am generally aware of my surroundings, but trusting a camera feed over my own eyeballs makes me uneasy. So, when someone puts a First Person View (FPV) drone piloting system in front of me, it better be near flawless for me to label it a must have.
If you want to skip the details, my summary is this: Like a lot of consumer UAV technology, the DJI Vision app for the Moverio smart glasses are cool, but imperfect.
Setting up the system is incredibly easy. The smart glasses run on Android so finding and installing the app is simple enough. The layout of the app is exactly the same as it is on a smartphone, though it does not include some of the features found in DJI’s latest update (i.e. Ground Station controls).
The live feed from the stationary drone was very good and downloading pictures and video from the Phantom to the glasses works exactly like the identical function on a smartphone. Pus, with 8 gigabytes of internal memory, there is plenty of storage space for pictures and videos.
Everything was fine upon takeoff until I began flying around a field. The major issue I ran into at that point was range. In addition to the field I around my house and in the parking lot of our office and I lost a responsive connection when I reached about 200 feet each time. On occasion, the feed would resume when I came back within range, but 200 feet is a pretty limiting metric when you are flying a Phantom.
Even within 200 feet, there was a noticeable latency of about a second. This was hardly an issue when I was flying casually around my house and keeping my Phantom within my line of sight. But if I was flying at full speed or beyond line of sight, that one second could be the difference between a safe flight and an impromptu meeting with a disgruntled tree.
A much more minor gripe I had with the glasses was the touch controller.
Do not misunderstand me, the controller works very well when you are using it as a ‘mouse’ to navigate the UI of the glasses. But when you have your hands on a Phantom controller, you’re a finger short.
Using a smartphone to control the DJI Vision app works well because it takes a single tap to navigate from one screen to another or take a picture. With the glasses, you need to drag your finger across the touch controller and navigate the cursor around the screen. And the cursor has to be lined perfectly with the appropriate button to garner any response from the app.
The glasses do boast an internal gyroscope but using it to control the angle of the camera is clunky at best (it had no problem panning up, but it didn’t like coming back down).
For $699.99 it is tough to recommend the Epson Moverio smart glasses for flying your Phantom FPV. If you are in the market for some smart glasses, however, they are definitely worth checking out.
The glasses themselves work as advertised. The Android OS works exactly as it does on a phone and the picture quality is excellent, even when streaming video content. However, most people I shared them with were much more enamored with a virtual reality robot shooting game than they were with the feed from the Phantom’s camera.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com