DJI unveils minicamera drone that can be flown with hand gestures

Key Points
  • The minicamera DJI Spark drone will be available in mid-June but preorders are open now.
  • The drone costs $499.
  • It can be controlled by hand gestures and requires little training.

DJI on Thursday unveiled its Spark drone that is designed to be flown by anyone.

DJI's other drone products are typically popular among professionals, such as photographers and videographers, who are willing to spend big bucks on high-end equipment. The Spark, by contrast, will cost just $499, requires little training and can fit in the palm of your hand, the company said.

DJI said the Spark can be controlled by gestures, using different hand movements to move the drone around you and even capture images with the drone's built-in camera that's capable of recording 1080p HD video. Using GPS, it can quickly return home.

The Spark marks an important step for drones. Most consumers who are curious in the high-flying gadgets are faced with a difficult decision: Spend anywhere from $800 to well over $1,000 or buy relatively cheap models from places like Amazon that don't offer as many features. The Spark seems to blend the two categories, but it also comes with some pretty big promises.

Gesture controls might sound like fun, but they may prove much more difficult to use. Also, given its small size, the drone may face trouble flying in windy weather, when smaller aircraft typically get tossed around.

The DJI Spark is available for preorder as of Thursday for $499 and will ship in mid-June.