Though it was surrounded by an absolute ocean of cool technology at the greater Consumer Electronics Show, French electronics manufacturer Parrot managed to stand out with the diversity and breadth of its booth. It showcased the latest drones, aftermarket vehicle infotainment systems, wireless sport-tracking headphones, and even a smart flower pot. Step through the door and experience Parrot's latest, most innovative products for yourself.
All-Terrain Minidrone concept
Parrot showed its latest Minidrone concepts at CES, and we were particularly intrigued by the still-unnamed all-terrain model. The two-wheeler designed to explore and video-document rough terrain looks like a whole lot of fun.
The rolling Minidrone uses a pair of rugged wheels for on and off-road maneuverability, including clawing its way up and over obstacles in its path. It can also leap into the air using its all-new Spine System, not too different from the jumping capability on the Jumping Sumo that Gizmag reviewed last year. The operator controls the drone from a smart device, and the central camera delivers the Minidrone's eye view.
Unfortunately, Parrot didn't have a launch date beyond "coming in 2015" or an estimated price. That applies to all of the new products here.
RNB6 Infotainment System
The Android 5.0 Lollipop-powered RNB6 is Parrot's latest infotainment head unit. Though it's powered by Android internally, the slickly designed plug-and-play plays nice with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, allowing you to connect your iPhone or Android phone and gain instant access to your apps on the 7-in HD touchscreen.
The RNB6 also includes an embedded navigation system, wide-angle 1080p dash cam and audio recorder for filming the road ahead, 4 x 55 W audio amplifier, voice control and vehicle diagnostics compatibility. It's no wonder the design won two CES 2015 Innovation Awards.
Parrot's consumer drones seem like good fun, but if you need something a bit more serious, you might want to check out the eXom from senseFly. A Parrot company since 2012, senseFly focuses on building autonomous drones for civil professional applications.
Still in development, the eXom is a fully autonomous unit designed for mapping and inspecting structures like buildings and bridges. The professional-grade drone captures video, stills and thermal images simultaneously, giving users a robust data set within a minimal number of flights. With interactive mode, the user can tune in to eXom's live HD and thermal video feeds to see exactly what it's seeing. The drone maintains awareness of its surroundings by way of five ultrasonic proximity sensors and five visual sensors.
SenseFly is still developing the eXom and plans to have it ready later this year.
Throwing another wicked curve ball into its product lineup, Parrot also offers a selection of plant sensors, and the Parrot Pot is a second-generation sensor that follows up on last year's Flower Power.
The pot includes a 2.2-liter reservoir for autonomously watering a plant for up to a month. The smart irrigation sensors monitor the plant's growth and supply the precise amount of water it needs when it needs it. The accompanying iOS/Android app includes a database of more than 8,000 plants, allowing the Pot to tailor its irrigation schedule to the specific plant. Never again will you have to worry about killing your plants or having to ask the creepy neighbor to water them while you're on vacation.
As a reference point, the much smaller, simpler Flower Power plant sensor module is available for US$59.99.
Zik Sport Headphones
Winning yet another Innovation Award, Parrot expands its headphone line with what it calls "the most advanced wireless sport headphones." The in-ear Zik Sport headphones stay right where you want them through vigorous activity thanks to the patented sweat-resistant headband design.
Beyond Bluetooth 4.0 music play and phone calls, the headphones track performance metrics with an integrated sensor set. They grab your heart rate from inside your ear and break running down into cadence, ground contact time and vertical oscillation, displaying it all on the accompanying smartphone app.
The adaptive noise cancellation delivers noise canceling on a sliding scale, adjusting to your environment. Parrot estimates that the headphones will run for five hours before needing a recharge. The Zik Sports fold just above their big pads, making them easier to throw in a bag or pocket.