DJI makes a live-streaming drone with Facebook’s new Live API

Chris Davies - Apr 12, 2016, 12:40pm CDT
DJI makes a live-streaming drone with Facebook’s new Live API

Facebook is opening up Facebook Live, its live-streaming platform, to third-parties, and DJI is already baking it into streaming drones. The new functionality was announced at F8 2016, Facebook‘s annual developer event, with company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sharing the stage with a prototype drone that can beam video from its onboard camera direct to viewers watching live.

Facebook Live was launched last year, though initially only as something for celebrities to use on their iPhone. Earlier this month, however, Facebook opened up Live support for every user of the social network, supporting live broadcasts from iOS and Android devices.

Now, though, it’s going even broader. The new Facebook Live API will allow third-party developers to stream to Facebook’s viewer too, rather than from a smartphone or tablet.

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First up to use the new API is DJI, which has upgraded one of its existing Phantom 4 drones to support streaming. Exact details on the system have not been shared, though presumably the tablet or smartphone that’s remotely-connected with the drone via the controller is responsible for taking the footage streamed back from its onboard camera and piping it through to Facebook Live.

Currently, the Phantom line can stream 720p HD video back while flying, though it records video at higher resolution to a memory card.

Though a drone might be the most eye-catching application of the Facebook Live API, more everyday uses are likely to spread more rapidly. That could include streaming from a digital camera or wearable camera, directly from an internet-connected security camera, or even through a TV with a webcam attached.

Facebook is certainly betting big on live video being the next big thing in social. Along with the broader availability of Facebook Live, the company also updated its mobile apps with a new live video tab, where current streams and previous broadcasts can be more readily discovered.

The top videos, meanwhile, are now showing up in Facebook’s “Trending” list alongside the biggest news stories and other topics.

If you’re yet to try it out, meanwhile, we’ve got a simple guide to get you started with Facebook Live on your smartphone.

According to DJI, the Facebook Live video streaming functionality should be launched publicly later this month, for all of its drones controlled by the DJI GO app, as well as the Osmo stabilized camera.


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