We Have Liftoff
by Gary Woods
For years one of the most exciting video games around have been the helicopter simulations. Sitting in your very own living room you could pilot a helicopter through jungle terrains and over urban sprawl. It didn't take much, just you, the software and a joystick and you were off for adventure.
Recently I saw the next manifestation of the helicopter game that allows you to actually pilot one of these beasts and control it with your iPhone. The Parrot AR.Drone http://ardrone.parrot.com which is actually a quadricopter with 4 spinning blades puts you in the cockpit of a helicopter that includes an inertial unit, ultrasound sensors and a vertical camera. The combination of these three elements which are controlled by an autopilot program allows extremely accurate piloting of the quadricopter. The AR.Drone detects the movements of your iPod Touch/iPhone to go up, down, turn, reverse and go forward.
You can also use the AR.Drone on a Wi-Fi network allowing players to create a game party where others can join and play against each other. The multi-player game, name AR.Flyng Ace makes it possible to have a battle between two AR.Drones.
The AR.Drone has been designed for both inside and outside use and you can adapt it to any game situation using the two hulls provided. The full hull shield protects the AR.Drone from impacts that occur during wild battles against enemies hidden in the rooms of the house while the streamlined hull is aerodynamic allowing greater control outside.
The AR.Drone retails for about $300 and will be available in September 2010 in the US. Currently it is available for pre-order exclusively through Brookstone (www.brookstone.com.)
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Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc