CES is always a little hit or miss for cool iOS stuff, as iOS accessories sort of take the back stage to whatever the new hot mass-market TV technology is. (Which, consequently, I believe is 4K this year. Thankfully it seems we’ve moved on from forcing 3D in everything!) Either way, a couple of cool iOS controlled toys are coming out of the show, from manufacturers who have already have existing products that fit that description. Parrot, the makers of the AR.Drone, and Orbotix, the makers of the Sphero.
First up is the Parrot MiniDrone, which, as the name suggests, is a miniaturized version of the AR.Drone. Like its big brother, you use an iOS app to control the device. The main differences are the lack of a usable camera and you connect to it via Bluetooth 4.0 instead of the WiFi network that the AR.Drone creates.
The Jumping Sumo, however, seems much closer to the AR.Drone in that it hosts its own 801.11ac network which allows for an onboard QVGA camera to send video back. It’s similarly controlled with an iOS app using a system of swiping and tilting. Basically, imagine the AR.Drone on wheels.
Last, but certainly not least, is the new Sphero 2B which basically seems to solve all the issues I had with the original Sphero by giving it two wheels with actual grip on them instead of being a smooth Bluetooth-controlled ball. Don’t get me wrong, the Sphero is/was a really fun toy, but it left tons to be desired outside of any surface that wasn’t super low pile carpet. It’s twice as fast as the original Sphero, features customizable tires, and all the same open API functionality that made the O.G. Sphero so neat.
Of course, like all things that have anything vaguely to do with CES, pricing and availability of all the toys mentioned in this post are all deeply secured in “TBA" territory. Regardless, it’s still neat seeing stuff that integrates with iOS in new, cool, or better ways.