In the fast-moving world of drone-related technology, there are many incremental improvements that marginally enhance your flying and filming experience. But every so often something comes along that has the potential to be a game-changer.
When flying solo, and particularly when shooting video rather than stills, you have to constantly shift your gaze from the drone to the screen of your phone or tablet, to check the shot or your flight data. Of course, you can go fully immersive with FPV goggles and rely solely on this view, but this option is really only practical for advanced pilots, and should be only be attempted with the help of an observer to keep a direct line of sight to the drone. However, there is now some clever crossover technology that goes some way to solving this problem. Augmented reality, or AR to its devotees, is a way of displaying information (which could be data and/or pictures) over your view of the real world. What Epson has done with the Moverio BT-300 is to come up with a system that allows you to see your drone’s camera view and flight data, whilst keeping an eye on the drone through a semitransparent display embedded in a pair of glasses. It’s a pretty cool concept, and one we were certainly keen to try out and see how it performed in the real world.
Opening the packaging you are presented with the glasses themselves, which are low profile with thick, clear glass lenses. It’s possibly not a good look as a fashion accessory, but they are certainly smaller and lighter than previous models. The dual displays, one for each eye, seem to be projected from the sides onto prisms within the lenses in front of your eyes. The glasses are connected by a cable to a touchpad which houses an Android device, complete with the triangle, circle and square buttons for back, home and recent (or history) options. Effectively, you’re running an Android tablet with the display floating in front of your eyes and the controls on a touchpad fixed to your remote. With this in mind, Epson has included a mounting bracket that will allow secure attachment of the touchpad onto a DJI Phantom or Inspire remote. Also included in the box is a selection of tinted clip-on lenses for the front of the glasses (more on these later). So how did well did the system work? Our first attempts at getting it all up and running were a bit frustrating, with various niggles and glitches, not helped by the fact that this writer wasn’t entirely familiar with the Android environment, being more of the Apple persuasion. After various updates and downloading the DJI Go app onto the device, we got it up and running and connected to the remote via a USB cable. The DJI Go screen looked slightly different from its appearance on a phone or tablet, with the video window reduced in size, within a wide black border. The Moverio BT-300 is now compatible with both DJI Go and DJI Go 4, so support is good with most up to date DJI drones (we’d say from the Phantom 3 onwards).
Price: £719 – Dimension s: 191 x 178 x 25mm • weight: 69kg – Opera ting System: Android 5.1 • Display: Silicone (Si) OLED – Resolution : 1280 x 720 – contrast: 100,000:1 – camera : 5MP • battery life: 6 hours -Photo- Website: www.epson.com
During the flight, the system generally worked well. It was sunny, and once we’d clipped on the darkest shades to the front of the goggles to help reduce the glare, we were able to see the on-screen display clearly. The downside was that with such dark glasses, we struggled to maintain a clear view of the Mavic itself, particularly so when it was below the horizon (it is small and grey after all!). In the end, the best solution we found was to slide the glasses down our nose a little bit and spot the drone over the top. This slightly defeats the point of the glasses, but it proved a more seamless solution than having to look down to our phone on the controller.
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