Oculus Rift to be compatible with next-gen drone

An Oculus Rift-compatible drone, piloted from a smartphone, has been unveiled by French device maker Parrot.

The new drone, named the "Bebop", can be controlled by any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, connected via Wi-Fi with a range of up to 300 metres.

A free app is already available to download in the iTunes Store and on Google Play. The app can be used to plot flights, ground-based photography and tutorial sessions

Parrot has also released a companion accessory named the Skycontroller, in which a device can be docked. The dock adds vertical and horizontal bumpers and an antenna that extends the controller's range to two kilometres.

Users with an Oculus Rift can connect it to the Skycontroller and pilot the drone through the headset. When users wearing Oculus move their head, the camera attached to the plane will move. This will be another recent real-world application for the virtual reality hardware, which is also being prototyped in tanks.

The BeBop features a three-axis accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer to help it achieve stability when in the sky.

The drone's camera, housed in a shock-proof mounting, has a 1080p 14-megapixel fisheye lens capable of capturing up to 180-degree views of the world around it. Using the fisheye, the drone's camera ensures it takes as wide a picture as possible before editing the resulting file down to size with its internal software.

The Bebop features 8GB of memory in which all videos and pictures taken during flight will be stored, as MP4 and JPEG files respectively.

The BeBop is set to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2014, though no specific release date or price has been announced. If Parrot intends to keep it competitive with other consumer drones on the market, though, it will be around the $300-400 (177-236) mark.