2017 looks to be the big year that drones will top your child’s Christmas list. And for those parents on the lookout for tech toys with an edge, this is going to be a good thing!
While mini quadcopters have dominated the market in the past few years, it’s certain many parents can attest to their short lifespan. Often saddled with lightweight 720p cameras and easily breakable blades, such toy drones usually equate to headaches for parents instead of an opportunity to grasp technology for children.
So put the paracetamol away – UAV toys that help the imagination take flight will win this year for the tech-minded parent and child!
The North American International Toy Fair was held last month in New York City and introduced at least four brands that intend to take hold of the toy technology market. POWERUP is one such brand. Their core collection features three DIY electric-powered paper airplanes.
“Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts are important building blocks for success,” said Shai Goitein, Founder of POWERUP. “Our products aim to teach the principles of aerodynamics while developing knowledge and skills through invention and outdoor play.”
POWERUP 2.0 aims for a 30 second free flight with a 20 second charge. Consisting of a carbon fiber propeller shaft and durable propeller, this virtually unbreakable design teaches the principles of aerodynamic flight. It includes directions to making four paper planes and links to extra designs, as well as a classroom curriculum for teachers.
POWERUP 3.0 is an Amazon bestseller already, and turns a run-of-the-mill paper plane into a remote controlled machine that any child can run with an app. Its durable design can be steered by tilting the control device, and the throttle allows control over ascending and descending. A clever Hacker Package in the STEM pack even allows coders to build their own open source app from scratch.
POWERUP FPV is king in the POWERUP hangar, and is essentially the first ever paper plane which allows live-streaming, virtual piloting. By wearing the controlling device with a Google Cardboard head-mounted display, pilots experience the plane’s point-of-view and control it by tilting their heads. This groundbreaking toy has earned itself the title of CES 2017 Best Innovation Awards Honoree for Drones and Unmanned Systems. With pricepoints ranging from US$16.99 – $199, these UAV paper planes will keep all ages (and parents) happy.
SPEED RACERS ARE GO
When it comes to birthday and Christmas morning mojo, there’s not many little and big kids alike who will go past a good racing UAV. This year both Spin Master and Mota have their eyes set on the finishing line for speedy drones.
Spin Master’s Air Hog range angles in on all levels of racing excitement, not least at the micro level with the DR1 Micro Race Drone. This agile little tech toy brings with it high speed excitement and its tech allows the novice pilot to learn to race like the pros.
Air Hogs take it up a notch with the DR1 FPV Race Drone, which uses similar tech to the POWERUP 3.0 to allow the pilot to see what the drone sees. Sure, that was probably to be expected – who doesn’t wish they were inside the drone? But their last offering has got to be a clear winners are grinners moment – with a unique land/air drone combo that allows the racer to battle it out on the ground or take to the skies in acrobatic excellence – what’s not to love? Coming in between US$39.99 and $99.99, like POWERUP there is something for everyone.
Now, this is all very well and good – but Mota may be the ones to win the toy drone race with the very agile and very mobile JETJAT Pro. This series has an amazing 200 foot range, and bring with them two modes (Stabilized and Manual) to cater for both beginners and pro pilots. Weighing in at only 43 grams, sporting a 6MP camera and with top speeds of over 55km/h, these agile UAV race toys are bound to sprint to the top of the speed drone market. And with those specs, at US$129 RRP we don’t mind one bit.
When it comes to advancement in toy tech we can’t deny that combining existing tech into new combos is always going to be popular. KD Interactive, makers of Kurio kid-safe watches and tablets, has come up with a combo that got our interest right away.
Aura is a super kid-friendly drone that uses gesture technology to allow a smooth learning entry to the toy drone arena.
“Today’s kids grow up with technology in their daily lives and have much more sophisticated expectations of what tech can and should do. It is always our goal to bring products to the market that will not only deliver on that expectation and offer great entertainment, but to also deliver a technology experience that is kid-friendly,” said Eric Levin, KD Group Strategic Director. “With Aura, we’re removing the boundaries of a traditional joystick controller, giving kids an innovative and super cool way to play and ensuring they have a successful first flight right out of the box. With Kurio, it’s always been about giving kids the real technology they want, be it wearable tech or tablets, but designing them to be age-appropriate.”
In short, the pilot wears a glove that uses patented Gesturebotics(TM) technology to control the UAV. Built into a lightweight cage, the JETJAT can roll across the floor, climb up walls and fly around the room. And all the while staying under the US$100 RRP sweet spot.
WHERE TO NEXT?
We’re sure this is only skimming the top of breakout toy drones this year. Let us know the best kids’ UAVS you come across! Onwards and upwards.