Droning Along

Tuesday this week was a busy day, with no less than four different items on my schedule. With each of these expected to take over an hour, I was tempted to drop one item from my list, and this would have been the one to be dropped.

Fortunately, I persevered.

And was rewarded with seeing what I am sure will be the coolest toy to grace the bottom of many a Christmas tree this year: Parrot’s AR Drone. This is, purely and simply, a toy. It has no redeeming qualities at all that I can think of.

Except that it’s just so cool, and so much fun, that I really want one. Just because.

First of all, it’s a remote control helicopter. On board it has four rotors to provide stability, and two video cameras, to provide you with an augmented reality view from the drone, onto your controller, which will be your iPhone.

You just download the free app, pair the iPhone to your drone, and press the start button. The rotors start up, and the drone starts flying in its default mode, which is that it hovers above the ground.

From that point on, you have two buttons on your display, from which you can control the height, direction it’s facing, and the direction and speed of its flight. Fire it up, spend a few minutes acquainting yourself with how it woks, and then you’re off for just a whole ton of man-toy fun. It’s basically that easy, and that much fun.

Parrot AR Drone

Parrot AR Drone

Some immediate uses for this come to mind – fetching a beer from the fridge, for instance – but I’m not yet sure if it can carry that amount of weight. A bag of popcorn might be doable though, while you’re sitting in the home theatre watching the latest Star Trek video.

If your best mate has one as well, then drone racing is definitely on the cards. Bring it into the office, and do a couple of laps of the lift well.

And yes, there are some games available for it as well.

Construction feels to be very good. Lightweight, but of good quality and feel. it seems to be quite robust, which is good, given the market that this will play in. And speaking of market, the price is around $350, which strikes me as being just about right for this. It’s a high end-ish toy, and that’s about where I think the price for this sort of toy needs to be.