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Gadget of the Week

Pivo – your portable robot cameraman

As individuals become more obsessed with recording their daily lives, they may want to up their game. Pivo gives them that edge, write ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK and BRYAN TURNER

What is it?

Have you ever been in a situation where you need to be filming, but you’re also the subject of your movie? That is becoming a standard experience as individuals become more obsessed with recording their daily lives, whether via stills or video. Clearly, it’s time for people to up their game beyond just a decent selfie camera.

Enter the Pivo Pod Red, a smart, auto-tracking smartphone mount. This little device cradle has a motor inside to enable auto-tracking, so it moves one’s smartphone in line with the subject detected in the smartphone’s camera. Just 5cm high, it can carry loads of up to 1kg.

It’s not just for standard video recording: it can be used as a mount for stable time-lapses, smoother panoramas, and video calls. It doesn’t follow only faces:  bodies and actions can be tracked, thanks to Pivo’s smart AI tech.

Pivo says its app is compatible with Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. Its companion app, Pivo+, can also enable live broadcasts to over 30 different social media channels at once.

Videos and pictures can be taken with gestures (like snapping one’s fingers or striking a certain pose) or by voice command (by saying “cheese”). It comes with a remote control to make capturing photos more precise than with gestures or voice.

The companion app shines in post-production, as users can create GIFs, tiny planets (360-degree photos), or 360 motion time-lapses. These features require little to no editing skills and can add an interesting element to one’s social media timeline.

The Pod Red can fit in one’s pocket and features an extendable set of stabiliser feet which can help prop the camera a little higher. It has a standard ¼-inch stand on the bottom for those with camera stands, enabling a more stable mounting experience on any standard fitting. Its internal 500mAh battery can be charged with a micro-USB cable included in the box, and it is compatible with iPhone and Android devices.

What does it cost?

R1,999 from the iStore.

Why should you care?

Equipment for filming oneself or coordinating multiple shots via smartphones is usually both pricey and complex, meaning that it has been largely confined to professionals and serious amateurs. Pivo brings these capabilities within reach of anyone who can afford more than an entry-level smartphone. A variety of models are available, including the higher-end Pivo Pod Silver, which can spin twice as fast and has additional features, for around R500 more. A Silver Bundle Pack includes a smart mount that allows for creative horizontal and vertical angles.

What are the biggest negatives?

  • Establishing the Bluetooth connection is hit and miss, and can take several attempts.
  • The upgrade from the basic Pivo app to Pivo+ feels like a downgrade, as it gives the user access to fewer features.
  • The tutorials included in the app are so highly specific – seemingly focused on the equestrian world – that it seems you may have got the wrong app. Perhaps it is because they are so proud of a Horse Tracking feature that most of us will never get to try.

What are the biggest positives?

  • Once it is connected, it works seamlessly.
  • The social media streaming feature is a content-sharing dream, at a fraction of the cost and effort of typical solutions.
  • The remote control can manage a number of Pivo devices at the same time.
  • With the remote control, it really is like having a robot assistant.

* Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee. Bryan Turner is data analyst at World Wide Worx. Follow him on Twitter on @tranquilbigfoot

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