LAS VEGAS — Even before the Consumer Electronics Show press preview on Sunday, 2012 was shaping up to be the year drones crossed over from military into civilian life. But now, you too can own a piece of the high-spying action thanks to three new drone-inspired consumer gadgets unveiled at CES.
First up is the “Wi-Spi” pair of drones — one mini helicopter and one RC car — from Interactive Toy Concepts, a Canadian company.
Due out in fall 2012, both devices offer the budding amateur spy surprisingly easy — if not exactly stealthy ways — of watching and recording live action remotely. Each device comes equipped with an onboard camera that can capture video and still photos, which can be uploaded directly to the Web and social media.
Both devices are controlled by mobile apps for either Android or iPhone, and both can actually display live video feeds on their operator’s phone of choice.
The Wi-Spi Helicopter will list at a manufacturer’s suggested retail of $119.99, while the Wi-Spi “Intruder,” (the RC car) will be listed at $99.99. Both gadgets are due out Fall 2012 “at major toy and electronic retailers.”
The second eye (in the sky) catching drone at CES is one that may be familiar to some readers — as it is simply the new and improved version of Parrot’s AR.Drone, a mini, mobile app-controlled quadricopter (four rotors) that launched for the consumer market back in 2010.
Plus, the press release for the AR.Drone 2.0 leaked ahead of the show.
This updated version, due out in the second quarter of 2012 for a list price of $299, offers a better HD camera at 1280x720 resolution, as well as the ability to recognize and interact with shapes and colors for an augmented reality (AR) “gaming mode,” which layers digital drone obstacles and enemies atop the camera’s actual view of the real world.
The new 2.0 AR.Drone also offers pilots a “traveling” mode, allowing them to set the drone to automatically move and record in specific directions for maximum stability and image quality. As in the case with the Wi-Spi drones, the recorded video can be uploaded directly to the Web.
Parrot, a French company, was also promoting the drone’s online open-source community — where developers can build their own AR apps for the drone to interact with. But it’s still the AR.Drone’s quad rotors and seeming agility that attracted the hordes to the Parrot booth at CES. Check it out in the background of the following video: