The OBSBOT Tail Air is an AI-powered 4K PTZ streaming camera

Sep 6, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The OBSBOT Tail Air is an AI-powered 4K PTZ streaming camera

Sep 6, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It’s been a while since we’ve heard much from Obsbot. You might remember back in 2019 they released the Obsbot Tail. Well, now they’re back with its sort-of successor, the Obsbot Tail Air (review here), and it’s launching on Kickstarter.

The original Obsbot Tail was targeted towards vloggers who needed a camera to track and follow them on their adventures. The new Obsbot Tail Air, on the other hand, is designed specifically for live streaming.

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Obsbot Tail Air – Built for live streaming

The Obsbot Tail Air, as mentioned, is dedicated to live streaming. This is a bit of a break from the original Obsbot Tail which was targeted towards vlogging. But like the Obsbot Tail, it’s a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera, with built-in AI tracking, allowing you to just set it down and have it follow you.

By “follow”, I mean it pans, tilts and zooms from a static spot. It doesn’t have legs, wheels or motors and can’t actually follow you. It also had gesture control.

In 2019 when the original Obsbot Tail was introduced, these were pretty groundbreaking features. In 2023, with other cameras like the Insta360 Link (buy here) and the plethora of smartphone gimbals that also offer subject tracking, it’s kind of become expected in a camera like this.

But the Obsbot Tail Air does also offer some advantages over other similar cameras on the market.

Enhanced AI Tracking

The Obsbot Tail Air, Obsbot says, “employs a sophisticated AI algorithm to monitor individuals’ movements”. It even identifies them after they’ve disappeared from the frame and then reappear. So, moving behind objects, or even leaving the room shouldn’t be an issue.

It can only track humans at the moment, but animal tracking is expected to be added in the future, to let you track cats, dogs and horses at up to 120° of rotation per second – which is pretty rapid.

If you don’t want to stream, it has a built-in microSD slot, letting you just record your footage straight to a memory card. Its built-in battery also lets you shoot or stream for up to 2.5 hours uninterrupted. You can do it pretty much indefinitely if you’re able to supply it with power over USB while in use.

4K Live Streaming at 30fps

Most cameras still only offer live streaming capabilities at 1080p. The Insta360 Link mentioned above is one exception. But even now that pretty much all mirrorless cameras offer streaming by connecting them to your computer via USB cable, most only output 1080p.

The Obsbot Tail Air streams out either 4K @ 30fps or 1080p @ 60fps with HDR and AI enhancement. But aside from this, the Obsbot Tail Air also allows you to stream with multiple cameras, switching between them at will.

Multiple ways to connect

The Obsbot Tail Air supports several ways to stream its video signal out to the world. You’re able to connect it to your computer, video switchers and various other devices over USB-C. You’re also able to get a micro HDMI feed out to send into video switchers and capture devices – of course, if you want 4K, you’ll want something like the Elgato Cam Link 4K (buy here).

Of course, you’ve got direct networking abilities, too, letting you stream over wired ethernet (this does require an optional adapter) or WiFi. Over wired ethernet, you’re able to bring it into software like OBS, or even web-based apps for various platforms and services.

WiFi also adds the option to stream from your smartphone using the Obsbot mobile app. This lets you stream directly to platforms like YouTube, Twitch and Facebook (assuming Zuck doesn’t change the protocol without warning again), or any other RTMP server.

The mobile app, of course, allows you to control your Obsbot Tail camera – or several of them – but there’s also a Smart Remote Controller dedicated to the Obsbot Tail Air that communicates over Bluetooth.

Built-in MEMS microphones + 3.5mm mic/line input

The Obsbot Tail features two built-in MEMS microphones, meaning you don’t need any kind of external microphone. However, if you’re going to be moving around a lot in front of the camera, especially at some distance, there is a 3.5mm microphone/line input socket.

This allows you to use microphones like the Rode Wireless GO II (buy here) or the recently released Rode Wireless Pro (buy here). Then, you can move around and get as far from the camera as you like without having to worry about sound.

You could potentially even plug a mixer into the Obsbot Tail Air, although this isn’t likely going to be a common setup unless you’ve got a multicam setup for something like a podcast. Or, as in the example image above, streaming a musical performance with singers and multiple instruments.

AI-powered multi-framing grid

This is a feature we’ve seen in other cameras before, too, although it’s not very common. Essentially, the camera uses AI in order to try and present you with multiple different framing options for the scene laid before it.

Obsbot calls them “AI Director Grids”. This is part of the mobile app and it allows you to quickly see how different crops of your image look so that even with a single camera, you’re able to make it look like you’re shooting with a multi-cam setup.

I haven’t seen a full spec for this feature yet, but I expect that if it’s outputting 4K, it’s cropping and scaling up to make it fit a 4K resolution, which is obviously going to lose you a little detail and quality. But if you’re streaming 1080p, this is a fantastic feature.

Price and Availability

As streaming cameras go, the Obsbot Tail Air looks pretty good, although even at Kickstarter prices, it’s not cheap. The Super Early Bird deal for a single camera is $419. It’s $479 if you want the camera and remote control. And it’s $599 if you want the “Powerup Kit” that includes the camera, remote, micro HDMI to HDMI cable and the USB to Ethernet adapter.

These prices jump up to $598, $677 and $900, respectively once the campaign is over and it goes retail. If you do decide to go with a multicam setup, that will get very expensive, very quickly. But depending on your needs, it may be worth the investment.

Disclaimer: We only share crowdfunded projects we believe are legitimate. However, most of those projects are not in a delivery state. Make sure you look into the project and make an informed purchasing decision. While some projects may offer amazing rewards, others unfortunately may not deliver on their promises.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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