iPhone Runs Toy Helicopter Taking Off at CES 2010

It’s my first ever Consumer Electronics Show, so I was happy to see at least one completely ridiculous tech product upon arrival in Las Vegas. Creating a spectacle at the entrance to Tuesday night’s media event was the AR.Drone, a UFO-like toy that’s controlled by iPhone.

Three years in development, the AR.Drone was a passion project of Paris-based Parrot, which mostly designs hands-free Bluetooth devices. This gadget is quite different, using a set of fans to propel itself in the air. The Drone is supposed to fly for 15 minutes on a lithium polymer battery, but every time I watched this thing, it fell after a minute or two. Here’s a short video I shot on my iPhone:

An on-board video camera feeds back to the iPhone. The idea is to use the Drone in alternate reality games, superimposing images onto real world video. Imagine controlling this toy in the park while blasting pretend alien spaceships, or dueling against a fellow Drone owner. Yoni Benatar, the Drone’s project manager, said Parrot is talking to developers about creating apps for the product.

Benatar wouldn’t provide a price, but mentioned $500 or lower and then said “something affordable.” Parrot’s hoping to release the Drone later this year.

I’m not naive enough to think we’ll ever hear again from this novelty product, but CES would be pretty dull without the occasional gizmo whose head is in the clouds.

This story, "iPhone Runs Toy Helicopter Taking Off at CES 2010" was originally published by Technologizer.

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