WIN­DOWS 8 TRANS­FORM­ERS

THIS DRONE IS AMONG THE FIRST AUG­MENTED RE­AL­ITY GAM­ING DE­VICES AVAIL­ABLE IN IN­DIA

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - TEXT BY NANDAGOPAL RA­JAN

Win­dows 8 ush­ers in a new breed of de­vices that twist and turn to be­come tablets from Ul­tra­books. We get hand-on with the first wave.

There are some gad­gets that are all about fun, noth­ing more. The Par­rot A R Drone 2 quadri­copter is one such de­vice; a toy for the en­tire fam­ily. We couldn’t think of any spe­cific uses for this lit­tle chop­per, launched in In­dia by flip­pertech.com, ex­cept maybe if you have a flock of sheep to mind in a large ranch some­where. But for gamers, this drone opens a new world of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

WHAT IS IT?

The A R Drone 2 is a light­weight ra­dio con­trolled quadri­copter — since it has four ro­tors in­stead of one — with two in­built cam­eras for bet­ter con­trol and, of course, more fun. The ac­tual drone is a ship­shaped de­vice with four legs and their sep­a­rate pro­pel­ler. The de­vice weighs about 380 grams with the reg­u­lar hull and about 50 grams more with in­door hull that pro­tects the blades from walls. While other RC de­vices come with con­trollers, this Drone 2 is con­trolled us­ing apps avail­able for iOS and An­droid de­vices. Once you down­load the AR Freeflight app, you use your phone or tablet to link to the wi-fi net­work gen­er­ated by the drone. One damp­ener here is the fact that the de­vice has no on/off but­ton, and switches on as you plug in the bat­tery. The real show­stop­per with this drone is the 720p cam­era in front and an­other on the bot­tom. There are also a bunch of sen­sors un­der the hull to con­trol the height of the de­vice.

HOW DO YOU FLY?

The pi­lot­ing of the drone is done en­tirely from your smart­phone or tablet. We sug­gest the former, as that is more handy. The app is real easy to use and you al­ways get a pi­lot’s-eye view from the front cam­era. Push the take-off but­ton and use the four-way tog­gle but­ton to con­trol the height and steer­ing. How­ever, things get a bit tricky as you move the drone to and fro by press­ing down the left but­ton and tilt­ing the phone or tablet in the di­rec­tion you want. This takes some learn­ing and we think you should take the de­vice out­doors only af­ter you have mas­tered the art of fly­ing this thing. For this, there are some great in­struc­tion videos that can be ac­cessed through the app. Even when you have mas­tered how to fly the drone, we don’t think it makes great sense to fly this in be­tween build­ings and trees, there are so many ob­sta­cles that can bring the drone down. We also found it tougher to con­trol the drone when it is windy. There is also a lim­ited 165-foot range and even be­yond the first 10 me­tres or so you have to de­pend com­pletely on the cam­era for con­trols.

HOW MUCH FUN IS IT?

The fun quo­tient here is di­rectly pro­por­tional to your con­fi­dence with the drone and abil­ity to fly it. Once the fear of fly­ing has been con­quered – oh yes, you will be scared at first – ev­ery time the quadro­copter takes off ver­ti­cally you will ex­pe­ri­ence an adren­a­line rush matched only by real fly­ing. Ac­tu­ally, this is the closes most of us will ever get to a com­mand po­si­tion in a cock­pit. Once you have got the hang of it you can use the many apps avail­able for mul­ti­player games and even to make an ae­rial video of your kitchen garden.

THE DRONE APPS

1 AR FREEFLIGHT This apps lets you con­trol the drone. Plus, it stores all the video shot with the drones two cam­eras within the app. There are also in­struc­tions on how to fly and set­tings for the drone. 2 AR RES­CUE Though avail­able only for iOS at the moment, this first-per­son view game fuses aug­mented re­al­ity with im­ages be­ing beamed by the cam­eras and a tar­get on the ground. 3 AR RACE This app lets you cre­ate an ob­sta­cle course of your own us­ing ob­jects in the home. Just don’t break any vases in the process.

WHY WE FELL FOR IT IT IS MUCH MORE THAN A DRONE, IT IS AUG­MENTED RE­AL­ITY AT ITS BEST.

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