Pivo Pod X: Your pocket-sized cameraman

Pivo Pod X is the latest automatic video tracking support for smartphone cameras, featuring new advanced artificial intelligence features for recording and composing movies, as well as longer battery life.

Design Review Highlights

We reviewed the design of the Pivo X prototype and came to the conclusion that the designers have a lot of knowledge and attention to detail, which makes the product capable and promising. There is a good chance that such a device will be widely distributed, given that almost everyone has a smartphone.

Motion tracking and AI

The tracking method is performed with the help of image tracking. Optronic (optical electronics) or image tracking has evolved over the years from expensive and bulky military-use constructions to relatively affordable handheld devices for consumers.

One of the main challenges of motion tracking is the radial velocity (rotation) determined by an object moving from left to right. The closer the object, the faster the rotation speed and the more difficult it is for the image tracker to keep up.

In the photo below, the Pivo X’s Cinematic AI feature is able to keep the runner in the image and in the center. This is impressive, as the smartphone’s processing speed and data transmission are synchronized with the Pivo X’s turntable to track the moving object. However, we assume that this design is only suitable for newer smartphones with better and faster hardware for the phone and the built-in camera.

Object size and distance

In addition to the speed of rotation for fast moving objects, there is also the question of how far or how large the system can still track the object. The application can only track what it can “see”, i.e. it must be able to distinguish the image from the background, and this is influenced by the image resolution, illumination and contrast.

In this regard, it can be difficult to follow a soldier in camouflage uniform walking against a forest background.

The designer recommended that the person, animal or object being tracked should cover at least 10% of the screen. The accuracy of the tracking also depends on the technical characteristics of the smartphone’s camera, the lighting and the speed of the object. In comparison, an image tracking device for military use could track even smaller objects, but it requires more powerful hardware that cannot be addressed in this article.

Attachment possibilities

Currently, the Pivo X has phone apps to support iOS and Android smartphones and does not support specific digital or DSLR cameras. One user feedback regarding the previous Pivo Pod is that the mount is not suitable for smartphones with thick phone shells like the Otterbox shell. However, Pivo has developed a special holder for thicker shells, which uses the clamping method. Below is a photo of the Smart Mount ($29 USD) with the older Pivo Pods.

The Pivo can be attached to any tripod with a 1/4″ universal thread, but Pivo also sells its own folding aluminum tripod, which can extend up to 1.6 m (5′ 3″ high). Because of its design with a small base triangle, the recommended weight is 1 kg or 2.2 lbs. The Pivo X (250 grams) with the larger iPhone 13 Pro Max or Samsung S21 Ultra, will not exceed a weight of 500 grams. Even though the tripod can handle a heavier load, it may feel heavy headed and less stable.

In the chart above, which shows the difference between the Pivo Pod X and the existing Pivo Red/Silver, there are some significant improvements such as USB Typ-C ports, a larger battery and the latest Bluetooth 5.1. The maximum load has been reduced for unknown reasons, but we don’t expect the smartphones to weigh up to 450 kg.

The old Pivo Pod has only a 500 mAh battery, which, according to user reviews, has a 10-hour battery life. With 1400 mAh, the Pod X has almost three times the battery life, but weighs only 74 grams more. Some may think that 250 grams is extra weight to carry, however, as our bags are filled with devices, chargers and batteries.

A major drawback is that all Pivo Pod models are not IP rated, meaning they are not certified against dust and water. All outdoor devices should have at least an IPX4 certification for splash and perspiration protection.

Users of the old Pod Red or Silver should be aware that the new remotes, while similar in appearance, are not compatible with the new Pod X and vice versa.

Review Summary

The Pivo Pod X is a powerful companion for influencers, creatives, or anyone who likes to make motion tracking videos themselves. However, we think the $355 retail price is too high for a gadget that isn’t even weatherproof, when most videos are shot outdoors.

Moreover, this price does not give any information about the warranty period, which we think should be at least two years, given that the device is not weatherproof.

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