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  • Will iPhone Controlled Helicopter "Fly"?


    Doing my best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, the new toy from technology firm Parrot has me shouting "Get to da choppa!!!" In what has to be one of the most intriguing and futuristic "toys" to roll out in some time, an augmented reality toy helicopter has everyone talking. The "AR.Drone" as its known, is a fully functional toy helicopter capable of being controlled from the iPhone or iPod Touch.

    USA Today is out with coverage of the super cool toy that is getting no shortage of attention this week coming out of CES.

    Moving the iPhone or iPod Touch, which have built-in accelerometers, directs the toy helicopter forward and backward and turning and other directions. Buttons on the iPhone make it go up or down. The chopper has four propellers and two on-board video cameras. One camera assists in flight, the other broadcasts video back to the device. That's where game developers could use the toy's capabilities to create augmented reality games to play in the real world, says Parrot founder Henri Seydoux.
    The ability to connect with friends and fly the chopper as a team creates a whole new effect and environment in which aerial toys can be experienced and enjoyed. Incredibly, despite the advanced technology that brought this creation to life, those who have tinkered with the toy report a surprising ease of use. And for about $500, you can try it out for yourself when the cool but battery-draining AR.Drone hits the marketplace later this year.

    Adding the AR.Drone to a game could get gamers off the couch, he says. "You are not playing in front of a display, you are playing in your backyard in reality, you are piloting in reality. You will see that is much more interesting because you have to factor in the wind and places you can hide for real," Seydoux says.
    Difficult to explain but easy to appreciate, the AR.Drone is being hyped as a futuristic example of where toys and augmented reality gaming are headed in the months and years to come. Obviously, the hefty price tag for a single "game" could preclude an unbridled explosion in the popularity of such gaming technology in the short term. But in the big picture, we could very well be seeing a look into the not-so-distant future of the hottest toys on the market.

    Parrot is demonstrating the AR.Drone at the Consumer Electronics Show and talking to game developers who might want to use the technology. "This will bring imagination to the game space," Seydoux says. "It is a new kind of gaming platform."
    Image via USA Today
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Will iPhone Controlled Helicopter "Fly"? started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      Quote Originally Posted by nrowensby View Post
      Too bad you won't be able to play with your Heli because your iPhone will be at home being a security camera...
      Quote Originally Posted by Home Skillet View Post
      Phone rings..$500 toy crashes to the ground..Crying ensues..
      LMFAO: yes indeed
    1. starjar's Avatar
      starjar -
      I seen this in CES and this not new. It's just the power of what the iphone can do.
    1. HR19's Avatar
      HR19 -
      Quote Originally Posted by starjar View Post
      I seen this in CES and this not new. It's just the power of what the iphone can do.
      Power of the iPhone? Sounds like SOMEBODY is brown-nosing.

      The iPhone application does one of two things:
      A: Transmits simple telemetry, and receives a simple video signal.
      or B: Transmits and receives a more complex signal than is necessary.

      That said, essentially any device with an accelerometer, touch screen, and Bluetooth/WiFi (not sure which one the toy uses) could be programmed to work with the toy. The hard part is getting the toy to interpret the commands properly, and keep all the stability. Especially, are there fail-safes for if, say, one motor begins to malfunction? Will it and its caddy-corner motor disengage, leaving the other two motors to pick up a bit and just allow for a safe landing, or pick up enough to even finish the mission/game, perhaps?
    1. Cow_King's Avatar
      Cow_King -
      I saw this at CES and watched it for a bit as well as got some video of it. It is coola nd all but 500 bucks is a joke.

      there was another flyer there that comes with its own remote and looks like a star wars fighter and has asuper nice case and everything the control on it was unreal he was flying it over peoples heads and landing it ona small pad without any problem at all. and it was only 300 bucks

      any ways it was cool tho
    1. HR19's Avatar
      HR19 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cow_King View Post
      I saw this at CES and watched it for a bit as well as got some video of it. It is coola nd all but 500 bucks is a joke.

      there was another flyer there that comes with its own remote and looks like a star wars fighter and has asuper nice case and everything the control on it was unreal he was flying it over peoples heads and landing it ona small pad without any problem at all. and it was only 300 bucks

      any ways it was cool tho
      And it would cost more than $200 to get a decent camera and mount that to it, add stabilizers (which still would probably not let it be as stable as the device in this thread), plus you'd have to carry some kind of giant device around with you for the video signal, 'cause it wouldn't be designed to be received by any small screen you could just go buy at Radio Shack. You're looking at total additional costs would probably be 300-500 dollars, plus having to lug around a large device to receive the video transmission, not to mention you'd have to mount the camera yourself, and HOPE that the device can support the weight efficiently, and there's still the stability issue that is likely to suck.
    1. Cow_King's Avatar
      Cow_King -
      lol i didnt say anything about the cam factor i wouldnt even add it to it. I was simply saying that another one with much better movment and control was cheaper

      As for the cam factor it woudl eb cool but with a less then 15 min battery life how much use would this toy really be?

      Any who thats just my opinion and its only worth what you want it to be :P

      Best part of ces 2010 would be the Samsung area and the Ed hardy girls lol

      Oh and Stan Lee i got hsi autograph it was cool but ya i didnt see much mind blowing stuff this year
    1. HR19's Avatar
      HR19 -
      Well, but now you're comparing sedans to minivans. Yea, a sedan is cheaper and better mileage, but it's impractical for hauling 8 people and a bunch of sleeping bags/equipment/etc. You're comparing a less expensive copter with a longer play time to something with a far more specific purpose.

      And there's only a couple things I've ever done on my iPod touch for more than 15 minutes at once, so 15 minutes of battery life on the copter would be fine for someone like me, most likely.