Spin Master has launched its Air Hogs Connect: Mission Drone, which combines the fun of a kid’s drone with an augmented reality game.
Toronto-based Spin Master said the $150 drone is now on sale at U.S. retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The toy is one more example of the convergence of digital and physical gadgets. By combining a drone with a game, the company hopes to differentiate its product from scores of others on the market.
Air Hogs Connect: Mission Drone is the first to deliver an immersive augmented reality (AR) game experience where players fly a physical drone in an interactive 3D digital universe. Using a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) enabled smart device and the free Air Hogs Connect: Mission Drone app, the drone flies over a tracking map.
That map enables visual and spatial tracking so you can see a 3D augmented reality world on a smartphone or tablet screen. The app is available for download on iOS and Google Play. I downloaded the iOS app and tried it out. The drone is super lightweight, with four quad rotors.
You set it down on the mat, and focus the app’s camera view on the drone. The camera recognizes the drone, and once it does so, you can tap a button to make the drone rise. Then you learn how to maneuver the drone back and forth. Basically, you put your finger on the screen and swipe in a direction you want the drone to fly.
In the game, Air Hogs pilots are challenged to lead a team of heroes through endless search and rescue missions and challenges to save the world from attack by alien forces. Your job is to fly the drone over certain spots indicated on the tracking map. As you do so, you can see animations on the screen, such as a soldier snaking down the rope coming down from the drone.
“With Air Hogs, Spin Master created the RC flight category. Our history of disruptive innovation continues with the new Air Hogs Connect platform. It pushes the boundaries of a remote control vehicle by combining it with one of the most talked about technologies today – augmented reality,” said Nick Beliaeff, vice president of production at Spin Master, in a statement. “This is where innovation meets entertainment.”