New Insta360 ONE R

Insta360 just launched their latest 360 camera, the ONE R. It’s actually a modular system and not a single, self-contained camera. Only time will tell, but it seems like the ONE R could be an innovative approach to  solving the problem of how to pack the burgeoning features we are seeing in the action and 360 camera spaces into a workable form factor. Certainly Insta360 seems to have doubled down their focus on the using 360 as coverage for standard 16:9 action shots.

The ONE R starts with a battery base and a touch screen that sits on top (it can be installed forwards or backwards depending on the use case) next to an empty space that could include one of the following:

  • A 5.7K 360 camera
  • A 4K action camera that records at 60fps for 4K and 200fps for 1080p
  • A 5.3K wide-angle (14.4mm equivalent) mod co-developed with Leica that has a 1-inch sensor (30fps for 5.3K, 60fps for 4K, and 120fps for 1080p) This module was developed with the help of camera company Leica.



Key features include:

  • Insta360’s FlowState stabilization is a key part of all three modules.
  • Waterproof to 16 feet, despite the module design
  • Aerial mod that makes it possible to hide your drone from footage
  • External mic support
  • Various remote control options, including Apple Watch, voice, and a GPS enabled smart remote
  • Selfie stick
  • Motion tracking to lock in on subjects
  • Tons of software/ post production options like bullet time, time lapse, slo mo, etc.

We’re not seeing a ton of immediate academic use cases for features such as the above, but will certainly keep the ONE R in mind if the right project arises.


Mavic Pro Air Released Today


With the launch of a brand new drone called the Mavic Air, DJI has further solidified its hold on the prosumer drone market by upping the ante on its already phenomenally popular Mavic Pro. The Air is even smaller than Mavic Pro, and offers comparable specs in a sleek and elegantly designed package as you’d expect from DJI. Additionally, we’re proud that Pratt alum Yumian Deng led the product team that built the Air. (Yumian was also on the project team for the Mavic Pro.) Congratulations, Yumian!

DJI Mavic Air Drone

Below are some of the marquee specs:

  • 3-axis mechanical gimbal
  • 12 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • f 2.8 lens, 35mm equivalent focal length
  • 32MP sphere panoramas
  • 4K 100Mbps video
  • Slow motion video
  • HDR photos
  • 8GB internal storage
  • Foldable remote controller
  • 42.5mph max speed
  • Can handle winds up to 23.6mph

Below is a review by drone expert Casey Neistat that provides a great look at the Mavic Air and includes sample footage from the Air along with the Mavic Pro,  the Phantom Pro, and the Spark, Mavic’s entry level drone and the smallest in their portfolio:

Potential down sides

  • 21 minute flight time is a little less than the Mavic Pro but more than the Spark
  • Uses wifi instead of radio signals for transmitting between the controller and the drone, which Casey reported seemed to be less reliable than radio at times.

Mavic Pro — World’s Best “Personal Camera Drone”?

When I was riding bikes with the Duke Cycling Team several years ago, one of the things I enjoyed most was getting to know a few of the incredibly talented and smart students who represent the core of this great university. Watching their accomplishments on the road, including several national championships in D2 cycling, was a great thing, but seeing what they have gone on to do after Duke–prestigious jobs at law firms, Google, Microsoft, and other achievements like one alum who finished the Race Across America last year–has been an even greater reward.

Well, one of them, Yumian Deng, is an engineer for DJI and is on the project team for the brand new Mavic Pro drone.


The Mavic Pro represents a significant leap in drone and specifically camera drone technology by combining portability and usability with a rich set of features that is pushing the envelope of what is possible today even with larger drones. As you can see in the photo, the body is about the size of an iPhone 6, and you can fold up the wings and put it in your pocket. Some say the Mavic Pro is the first, or at least the best to this date, true “personal camera drone.”


The Mavic Pro delivers 4k video from up to 7 kilometers away. That’s right–7 kilometers. Other features include:

  • 4K video at 30 fps and 1080p HD at 96 fps
  • 24 core processing
  • Can automatically track you (or something else you define) without a wrist band or similar tracker
  • Automatically avoids obstacles
  • Miniaturized 3 axis mechanical gimbal for stabilization. It’s probably the smallest 3 axis gimbal to this date, and Mavic is also the smallest drone that carrys a 3 axis mechanical gimbal.
  • 78 degree field of view
  • 27 minute flight time
  • Remembers “home” location and can track back home through vision sensors and connections to up to 20 satellites
  • A remote that can operate on its own or combine with your iPhone for added functionality and ease of use
  • Editing app
  • Camera can focus on the drone user when that person waves their arms, and snaps a selfie when the user pantomimes a camera-snap gesture.
  • Stream live to Facebook or YouTube
  • You can control it via radio signals or built in wifi, though wifi offers less range.
  • Top speed of 40mph
  • “Terrain mode” allows the Mavic Pro to fly while maintaining a specific height above the ground, moving up and down as the ground’s elevation changes.


This recent review offers a helpful look at the Mavic Pro: