Drones are very fun, is something that I recently realized playing with a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 for the first time. But the image on the screen you see from most drone cameras is laggy, pixelated and generally sub-par, even if the camera on your drone itself is capable of recording much higher quality video. Sky Drone FPV aims to improve that, with a new crowdfunded project that will provide full streaming HD video to your tablet or smartphone of choice live from your flying robot.
Drone hobbyists are a fanatic group, and quality is important to any fanatic. The Sky Drone FPV wants to make the lived reality of flying drones more similar to the videos and photos uploaded to YouTube, which often reflect the HD capture, not the actual first person view you’ll see on a device while piloting. It promises to offer 1920×1080 full HD streams at 30 frames per second, unlimited range so long as there is cell tower coverage via 3G or LTE networks, a heads-up display (so long as you have the required circuit board) and 5 megapixel still shots. It also works with just a smartphone or tablet, and requires no additional antennas or gear.
Finally, the feed is encrypted via AES-256 encryption to prevent any spying eyes from taking a peek at your feed, and there’s an HDMI out option to connect to virtual immersion goggles, with Oculus Rift support listed as one of the company’s stretch goals for the Sky Drone FPV.
The project is designed to help wean drone hobbyists and FPV enthusiasts off of their clunky analog solutions by addressing the three big problems of current digital offerings, which include achieving low latency; performing consistently and reliably, and doing so at a cost that isn’t absurd.
Backers can reserve a Sky Drone FPV set for $349, which gets them a kit including a cellular modem, USB hub, cables, a controller, a camera and an AP cable and uBEC. The package also includes the Sky Drone FPV groundstation app, which allows you to control exactly what you see on your screen, configure your HUD and actually view the stream live from your remote-controlled flying device.
The Sky Drone FPV is currently functional on BlackBerry 10 and Playbook devices (yes, the devs used BB as a starting platform, likely because BlackBerry VP of dev relations Alec Saunders is a founding investor) but will be build for Android and iOS too, which is what the funding will help with, as well as refining the still image capture mechanic. The Hong Kong-based team aims to deliver by December, 2013, so you could be flying in glorious HD in time for the holidays.