You know those kiosks in the mall where stoned dropouts fly miniature helicopters around all day for minimum wage? Yeah, those are cool, if you’re easily impressed (which explains why 80% of their sales are from passing 8-year-olds’ parents.) But you’re an adult, on the Internet, which means your attention span is much slightly higher than an 8-year-olds’. Any old hunk of plastic that can buzz around won’t do it for you; you need something with beef.
Enter the Parrot AR Drone (Parrot, $300,) one of the coolest miniature helicopters on the market. Why? First of all, it has Wi-Fi. Can you imagine anything that isn’t instantly improved with Wi-Fi? It uses that connection to transmit feeds from its two cameras- that’s right, the thing’s got double surveillance- and controls to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, where you can man the captain’s chair remotely and pilot the thing right from your screen.
The AR in its name stands for Augmented Reality, which is already making for cool iPhone apps and opens up huge possibilities for the device. Imagine a game where you control the Parrot via iPhone and try to hunt another Parrot and shoot it down; then quit imagining, because it’s already here. It also has the ability to recognize 3D tags and includes an ultrasound altimeter that allows it to hover. Translation: this thing is straight from Minority Report. There are thousands of cool things you could do with an internet-connected flying camera and we’re sure developers will be jumping at their chance to make apps for this, so jump at your chance to get this under the tree- you know, “for the kids” and all.