x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Technophile: Turn your smartphone into a remote control for these toys

Three fun gadgets that can be controlled remotely using your iPhone or Android device.

The Helo TC helicopter.
The Helo TC helicopter.


How it looks The menacingly black HELO TC remote-controlled helicopter is about 20-centimetres long. Its lightweight metal frame and plastic body is built to withstand many crash landings, although not likely the rigours young children might put it through.

What it does The HELO TC, which charges via USB, can be touch-controlled through a "flight deck" that plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone or and Android smartphone. The app's virtual joystick allows you to tilt your phone to move the chopper up or down, backwards or forwards.

Who it's for Remote-control enthusiasts who like to practise their aerial acrobats indoors, while the app's "auto-landing" feature may also come in handy for novices.



AR Drone

How it looks Although it won't win many design awards (it resembles a flying shoe), the AR Drone quadricopter (four blades) is loaded with features. It's also on the large side (60cm long) and weighs almost 2 kilograms.

What it does App-controlled via iPhone or Android, its onboard Wi-Fi system and two wide-angle cameras stream live bird's-eye view images to your smartphone as it flies. It also features an autopilot for easy takeoffs and landings and comes with separate hulls for indoor and outdoor use.

Who it's for Serious remote-control devotees will enjoy experimenting with this advanced toy, although all the bells and whistles mean it can only fly for about 15 minutes on a 90-minute charge from a wall socket. If you can find a friend with the same drone, the app also provides several aerial combat games.




How it looks It looks more like a miniature electric two-seater car of the future than a mobile-combat vehicle. But what the brightly coloured, fruit-sized Tankbot lacks in gravitas it will more than make up for with its versatility.

What it does The Tankbot can be controlled by apps on your iPhone or Android device with the help of a dongle that plugs into your smartphone's audio jack. Its "advanced optical navigation technology" means it can move around by itself without bumping into a wall, or other maze-like obstacles you might place in its way. It will operate for 15 minutes on a 30-minute charge from any USB port.

Who it's for Children or those in touch with their inner child will find the Tankbot provides hours of amusement, although perhaps not days or weeks. It's more fun if you have two or more to race, however.