Drone manufacturing giant DJI, the recognized leader in recreational drones, is rapidly staking a significant claim in the commercial space.
While DJI drones have been the prosumer solution for professional photographers for some time, most have put together a total kit from multiple vendors. However, the company is working rapidly to close the gaps in their solution portfolio for the commercial space. “Drones are transforming industries from filmmaking to agriculture to construction and surveying, and DJI is committed to rapidly developing the hardware and software that professionals need to do their work faster, safer, more efficiently and at a lower cost,” says Adam Lisberg, Director of Communications for DJI in North America. “We have a range of new DJI products and services to serve professional users, and we’re dedicated to developing the tools they need to do their jobs better.”
DJI introduced new, high-performance hardware focused on professional photographers at the NAB show on Sunday. At the same time, the company unveiled a premium customer support program for commercial drone operators – addressing an issue important to business owners.
“The new Cendence remote controller, DJI Tracktenna high-gain antenna and CrystalSky monitor provide personalized controls and better performance for the most demanding uses,” says the company, “while DJI Circle delivers a new premium tier of support for DJI products and the people who rely on them to do their jobs.”
“From rescue crews to software developers, from filmmakers to contractors, DJI’s professional customers demand the highest performance from our aerial platforms and handheld stabilizers,” said Paul Pan, DJI Senior Product Manager. “We are committed to giving them the tools they need to do their jobs right, so they can accomplish their goals with more power, precision and control than ever before.”
Customizable Remote Control
Priced at about $1,000, the new Cendence remote controller is a multi-platform controller for professionals. The Cendence offers functions for a sophisticated audience: clearly moving beyond DJI’s base of hobby fliers.
“Users can program and store customized button configurations for different flight and shooting options, and can use two dials to adjust the pitch and yaw of the gimbal at the same time,” says the company announcement. “With Cendence, pilots have instant access to functions like ISO, sharpness, shutter speed, focus and more, without navigating the touch menu settings on their mobile device. Cendence features built-in SDI and HDMI video transmission ports for live HD broadcast and streaming applications, and can be easily adapted to use DJI’s Lightbridge or WiFi video transmission technology.”
Improved Flight and Data Communication
DJI Tracktenna is a high-gain antenna designed to improve signal reliability over distance, resisting interference. It keeps the antenna pointed towards the drone at all times, improving the connection even if the operator is moving or in a vehicle.
DJI says that when installed on the new Cendence controller, the Tracktenna has the potential to increase signal transmission to over 6.2 miles (10 km): the company sights the professional applications for the system – “complex flights like search and rescue missions, power line inspections, pipeline inspections, live HD broadcasting, filmmaking and more.”
Brighter Dedicated Monitors
The next new product in DJI’s pro portfolio is a daytime monitor. “The CrystalSky series features displays up to 2000 cd/m2, which is four times brighter than a typical smartphone or tablet,” says DJI, “allowing clear screen visibility even in full daylight.”
The monitors also feature a second external battery, stretching the endurance of the monitor up to 6 hours.
Premium Customer Service
Finally, DJI is closing the service gap for professional operators by offering a specialized premium support program, which they call the DJI Circle. The DJI Circle is a 24/7 global service designed to cover a pro’s suite of equipment, offering coverage for up to 5 DJI products and providing personal attention. The service doesn’t only take tech support questions. For less than $5,000 per year, it’s a premium solution that facilitates battery rentals, product shipments and questions, device repair and backup, and even provides airport lounge access and emergency medical services while traveling.
DJI’s marketing efforts clearly reflect the company’s inclusion of professional operators: their announcement’s opener doesn’t use the word drone, but describes the company as “the world’s leader in creative camera technology.” As the world’s biggest recreational drone manufacturer expands their reach into the pro space, competing manufacturers will have to work even harder to differentiate their solutions. The resulting innovations can only be good for commercial operators.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.