Some gadgets simply defy explanation; there’s no logical reason why you really need them in your life, you just simply HAVE to have them–this is the exact reaction I had the first time I laid eyes on the AR.Drone from Parrot. Long recognized as a leader in Bluetooth technology and devices, Parrot was truly thinking outside-the-box when it came up with the AR.Drone…the first RC Quadricopter you control using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. While most RC cars, planes and helicopters use traditional hand-held radio devices (which are SO 2009), the AR.Drone actually lets you use your iPhone to control it over a Wi-Fi network (the Drone generates its own Wi-Fi network, so being in range of a router is a non-issue). If this wasn’t impressive enough, the Drone’s 2 on-board video cameras allow you to follow your flight in real time by letting you see exactly what the Drone sees, through either the front or bottom mounted camera. The Drone also uses the accelerometer built in to Apples devices, allowing you to simply tilt your phone in the direction you want to fly. Of course, none of this technology (and believe me, there’s plenty of it) really matters if it doesn’t perform well in flight…and trust me when I tell you, you’ll love flying this thing. The stability of this copter is the first thing you’ll notice and in my limited hands-on experience I found the controls to be quite sensitive and accurate. The flying experience is that of a sophisticated, precision machine; this is nothing like the “toy” helicopters you’ll find at you local mall kiosk . There are games included with the software that use augmented reality to enhance your experience…imagine enemy aircraft and different environments being overlayed on your iPhone showing a mix of what the camera really sees and virtual reality, and you’ll get the idea. The AR.Drone is priced quite aggressively ($299 U.S.) for all of the tech it packs, which includes an external foam hull to be placed on the copter when flying indoors, protecting both the Drone and your living room. Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux promises that in the coming months more mobile platforms will have software available for controlling the Drone (right now it’s Apple only, but rumor has it that Android will be next up). We’ll have a more complete review once we get a review unit in our hands, so make sure you come back in early September when the AR.Drone is set to launch. Until then, enjoy the pics and video!
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