Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0 captures photos and video via on-board HD camera, offering live recording and streaming via Wi-Fi. It can even execute 360-degree roll by simply hitting a button or by tilting a smartphone or tablet. Seydoux calls Parrot's toy drones “a new frontier for video games.”
The unit is loaded with electronics ranging from 1-GHz ARM Cortex A8 to 800-MHz video DSP (TMS320DMC64X) and MEMS sensors to deliver precise control and automatic stabilization. The AR Drone also is equipped with an QVGA camera for ground speed measurement and safe landing.
In July, Parrot acquired SenseFly, a Switzerland-based drone company, allowing the French company to enter the ultra-light flying drone market for professional applications like mapping.
Meanwhile, Parrot also has developed a wireless headset featuring Bluetooth connectivity, active noise cancellation and near-field communications for Bluetooth pairing. Jawbone sensors allow the headset to be used for wireless conversations.
The wireless speakers housed in a daring design (left) are set up to offer immersive sound. The speakers leverage an elaborate system of DSP processing and amplifiers. A 200-MHz DSP provides digital filtering and feeds into a pair of amplifiers dedicated to each driver.
Parrot’s ASIC used in its car telephony system include an ARM A9 core with ARM’s DSP functions and a hardwired audio processing block designed for the audio front end. The audio front end is three times bigger than the ARM-based block. Why ASICs? Seydoux responded: “To do good acoustic in a car demands a lot of processing power and specific filtering. You need an ASIC.”
Parrot is now targeting markets beyond the phone and drones.
Last year, it acquired DiBcom, a French mobile TV chip company. Designing a system that works well with a smartphone is a priority for Parrot’s in-car system, but the company is willing to add features to regular handsets, including mobile TV, said Yannick Levy, a former DiBcom CEO and now executive vice president of Parrot’s digital tuner business unit.
Its Octopus chip, a programmable digital TV front-end solution initially developed by DiBcom, is making its way inside Daimlers and BMWs, said Yannick.