New Wi-Fi Enabled Toys Make it Easier to Spy on Your Neighbors

First there were little toy cars that kids pushed around, then came wind-up toys, and several hundred years later, battery propelled cars, trucks and even boats. After that toy makers came up with remote controlled cars, copters and boats. Then, someone had the bright idea of hooking a camera to such toys, but they had limited distance capabilities. Now, another new step has been taken; toys that can be remotely controlled with high resolution video cameras, via Wi-Fi. Three such products were, according to LiveScience, unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The first is the Wi-Spi, a helicopter that can be flown around while the viewer watches images beamed to their Smartphone via regular Wi-Fi. An app for it allows for such video to saved and/or posted to YouTube.

Another new device is the Parrot AR Drone, which has four propellers to make it easier to fly. It’s a toy that has already been on the market for awhile but now is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing it to be flown around a Wi-Fi equipped office for example, which is where many of the sellers of such toys expect them to exist. Such a toy would, for example, allow office mates to spy on one another as they sit in their cubicles. Of course, that would assume that they have hearing problems, as none of the toys debuted would be considered quiet enough to spy on anybody in a quiet environment.

There’s also the Intruder car, a little toy, that like the helicopters and other drone type toys, can be piloted via Smartphone, making it both fun and convenient perhaps, for fooling around at home. It’s not hard to imagine instigating a recon mission at home to find out where everyone is when it’s time to set down to the dinner table.

According to Wired, such little toys are generating more interest at CES than the traditional, more serious hardware, such as computers, stereos and other equipment.

What’s not so light or funny is the very real privacy issues that such toys could raise. What happens for example when little Jimmy decides to use his new Christmas present next summer to spy on his neighbor sunning in her backyard? Or what if microphones are attached to such toys, which could be made to land in a private area before people arrive, thus overcoming the noise of the toy, to record private conversations? And if someone intentionally flies such a toy over or onto another person’s property, is that a form of breaking and entering?

Doubtless all these questions will be answered in the coming years as offenses are committed and then sent to the courts to be straightened out.

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