Parrot A.R. Drone Makes Video Games Real and Exciting
First, you need to know that the A.R. Drone is not an augmented reality game in itself. Parrot has developed it as a platform around which other companies can build games. The helicopter sports a front-facing camera that feeds video to your iPhone or iPod touch, and a down-facing camera that (in conjunction with a gyroscope and accelerometer) helps to keep the helicopter stabilized. Parrot happily demonstrated this latter fact to us by smacking it.
The software side of the equation is pretty polished looking already. A sleek, fighter-pilot-style HUD is layered over the streaming video, providing controls for altitude and rotation, and a button to activate the accelerometer controls. Holding the accelerometer button allows you to control the helicopter's movements by tilting your iPhone. There's a bit of a learning curve to the controls, though, and it's easy to get disoriented if you're facing a different direction than the camera.
There are still some bugs to work out. The drone flew out of control on us at one point, and the stated battery life of 15 minutes is disappointing. Still, the A.R. Drone is one of the most exciting things out of this year's CES, and you can expect to see it on store shelves the first half of the year at a yet to be determined price.