Just to emphasize how far we have come with the integration of wireless and technology and miniaturization, Verizon Wireless kindly opened up their Holiday Gift Guide and sent me the Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider to try out.
Yes, you too can have your own personal mini drone, for around $99, to fly around your house or yard, do tricks, and shoot photos.
What makes the Rolling Spider work so well is that is a quadricopter, with four rotors. This design is particularly popular for drones, as it allows for smaller motors and blades and easier control. The Rolling Spider has onboard sensors and processing that allow it to launch itself from the floor at the push of a button, and then hover still in the air until you move it.
As a result, normal people can fly this drone, even without video game reflexes. You use the Parrot FreeFlight app on your smartphone (iOS, Android, or Windows Phone) to fly in any direction, turn, and move up and down. It also has built-in tricks, to flip 360 degrees forward or backward — again then automatically stabilizing and hovering in place.
And as a proper drone, it even has a downward-facing camera, so you can take photos using the smartphone app.
This is definitely a mini drone, ridiculously light about 2 ounces, with the body around 2 1/2 by 1 1/4 inches, and the rotors spanning a 7 inch diameter. The Rolling part of the name comes from a pair of large wheels that you can clip on to help protect it from bumps indoors, and to allow you to roll it along floors, walls, and ceilings. You also can use the MiniDrone outdoors, but it’s really too light to handle a strong breeze. And it cannot carry the weight of a heavy battery, so it runs only around five to eight minutes on a charge.
This is just part of the amazing range of capabilities that wireless brings to your electronic devices. At the same time, your smartphone can be flying the drone, playing music on a wireless speaker (and from a wireless disk), signaling a notification on your smartwatch, and updating your email from the Internet. This stuff really does work.