One of the coolest ideas for a Christmas present I've seen this year is the Parrot AR.Drone Quadricoptor. As a sucker for tech gadgets and toys, learning about a machine whose mobility can be remotely controlled by a phone definitely piqued my interest (and conjured up some memories of James Bond gadget-lust).
The quadricoptor (quad referring to its four rotors) was dubbed a hit at the Consumer Electronics Show in January by many reviewers. The machine has two live-streaming video cameras (one down-facing and one front-facing) and can be controlled over Wi-Fi through an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, using a free application from Apple's app store. Tilting the phone (or iPod or iPad) forward, backward or side to side moves the Drone in that direction. The phone's screen shows a live view of what the Drone sees at that moment, allowing the user to control the Drone when it's out of view.
What's more – the 'AR' in AR.Drone stands for augmented reality, which basically involves running games on the iPhone/Pod/Pad that overlay onto the Drone's camera view. With two Drones, you can hold in-air battles, lining up and blasting opponents on-screen. This feature is super-enticing for me, though it's unlikely that multiple Drone owners will come together, given the Apple-only platform and high price tag ($299).
Software that allows Android control of the Drone is in the making, and when that is released, I'll have to decide if I'm willing to shell out the money for this pricey, albeit, appealing toy.