The Pivo Pod is a tripod mount AI powered gimbal for your cell phone that lets you track movement during video capture, hands free. What can you use it for? As it turns out, just about anything! From tracking yourself riding a horse or skateboarding to making video calls, or even to record yourself hands free, without the need for a camera operator.
Physically, it’s a small black unit, with a standard tripod mount on the bottom. It has a built-in rechargeable battery, so keeping it charged is easy. The clamp can hold most mobile phones, although you might need to remove your phone’s case if it is too bulky. We found that it worked fine with our Android phones, including the factory supplied cases.
To use the unit, simply charge it up, and then download the appropriate app. Here is where we think a bit more customer guidance would help. Let me explain - our unit, the standard-level model, shipped with a large QR code for the Pivo Pod app, but when I scanned the code, it failed to connect. A visit to the Google Play Store revealed many Pivo apps, but none named Pod. A quick search revealed a Pivo support page, stating that “the Pivo Pod App has been renamed and will now be known as Pivo Play.” A little counterintuitive, but at least that solves the mystery.
A quick meander to the Pivo site revealed that the sample model we were sent was introduced around two years ago, and the product name has been changed from the Pivo Pod Silver to Pivo Pod Active. This was important because in order to figure out what apps work with it, users need to know the new naming scheme. A well-designed and illustrated Quick Start guide was posted as a PDF, which we quickly downloaded. A visit to the pivo.ai website indicates that the unit is now known simply as the Pivo Pod. It’s a bit confusing since the site refers to different models, that don’t seem to exist at the present time. At the time of this article, there are only two models offered, the Pivo Pod, and Pivo Pod Lite, with the various kits considered “Editions.”
Once the app was downloaded and installed on our phones, we created an account, and it was time to create and have fun.
While I personally own a number of tripods, I’d have preferred to review the kit version, since that’s what I’d recommend most consumers to purchase. The accessories are useful, such as the light, wireless microphone, tripod, etc., and it’s convenient to have all of those items right there and ready to use.
Working with the Pivo universe isn’t that expensive, the pink colored Pivo Pod Lite is just $79.99 so an affordable entry into the product line. The standard Pivo Pod is $139.99, and has a few more features than the Lite. It’s twice the speed of the Lite, has a 4-second max rotation speed vs. 8 seconds, six tracking modes vs. three, and is available only in black. There are several purchase options, with the Pivo Pod Solo Creator Edition is their flagship Pod and accessory kit. The Lite is lighter on features, but offers your choice of seven colors. (We think it’s a little unfair that the Pivo Pod doesn’t also have color options!)
Notable Product Specs:
Motion Tracking Mount for iOS or Android
360 Degree AI Motion Tracking
Face and Body Tracking
Hands-Free Operation and Video Calls
Auto Zoom Feature
Variety of Color Options (Pivo Influencer)
Horse Tracking Feature (Pivo Active)
3D Virtual Tour Feature (Pivo Black)
Multiple Tracking Speed Options
Pose, Connect, and Create Modes7 Apps Available Including Video Calls, and Live Streaming
Full Range of Peripherals
Portable and Compact Design
Affordable and Easy to Operate
One feature of the unit is evident when working with panoramas. The Pivo Pods allow for easy, smooth, and quiet panning, a cool thing for a unit this at price. One of my interests was to use the unit for selfie-filming product reviews or demos. For this use, we’d recommend considering the wireless microphone. A quick visit to the web for a search of Pivo videos, and you might be amazed at how many are associated with either horses or skateboarding. So much so that they even offer the Pivo Pod Equestrian Edition, a kit designed with all the necessary accessories.
While you do get basic AI tracking free with the purchase of a Pod, for serious work, Pivo makes this offer: “When purchasing a Pivo Pod, customers will receive a one-year subscription of Premium Tracking for free. Premium tracking includes Animal Tracking (horse and dog [beta]). After one year, users will have to manually renew their subscription for $29.99/yr.” However, I couldn't find Premium Tracking in the App Store on the site.
In testing, it’s seems best with moderately moving subjects, and a clean, clear, non-distracting background. The AI features that turn it into a surprisingly affordable yet powerful tool, allow it to find a person and follow them, automatically. Our Pivo Pod shipped with a charging cable, and a battery powered remote control. To take full advantage of the unit, it’s important to understand the different apps that are available. As an Android user, our Motorola phones worked fine.
The available apps range in price, from Pivo Tour ($299.99), Pivo Present ($99.99), Pivo Studio ($29.99), Pivo Live ($99.99), to the free Pivo+, Pivo Play, and Pivo Cast apps. Some of the apps were on sale, so your prices might be lower. Each app has a different feature set. Pivo Tour is designed for creating 360-degree panoramas, but also allows you create a tour of a space with different captures. This is perfect for real estate professionals, wishing to give a tour of a property. You can use the Pivo to capture a 360 view of each room, and then connected so it’s like walking through the house. The resulting work can be easily posted to your website.
We think the free apps will provide most folks with all they need to create effectively. The most popular app is probably the free Pivo+, which will accomplish most of the tasks that users need most, including auto tracking for photos, videos, and video calls. We tried it with video calls, and it worked surprisingly well, tracking us as we wandered around the kitchen for example. It also worked well capturing movement, and more. Pivo Play allows you to merge videos, and other effects, perfect for folks who want to up their social media game a few notches. Pivo Cast is perfect for video calling where you want to share on Zoom, Instagram, Tikor, and our favorite, Google Meet. It allows you to be free from you chair, since the phone can follow you, allowing you to hold up an object, or walk around while talking.
The paid apps all have a more specialized audience. Pivo Present is designed for presentations, which allows for easy integration of the video capture of the presenter along with charts, images, or other data. Pivo Studio is designed to help sell items, allowing you to create moving videos of objects, by placing the camera in a stationary position, and using the Pivo to rotate your items, creating a smooth transition-free video.
We think the Pivo Pod is a unique, fun, and effective solution for a myriad of uses. It’s an affordable computer controlled gimbal for your phone, it can eliminate the need for a camera operator, and its AI tracking allows you to show a few of your best moves, all in a small, lightweight, portable, and affordable tool. We wouldn’t be surprised if Santa doesn’t have one with him as he slips down chimneys this holiday season. If you have a kid who skateboards or rides, there is no way that the Pivo Pod wouldn’t bring a huge smile. The Pivo Pod comes highly recommended.
Harris Fogel and Nancy Burlan, posted 10/7/2022
For more information on the Pivo Pod visit: https://pivo.ai