Griffin Helo TC remote-controlled helicopter controlled by your iPhone

Griffin has outed a new remote-control helicopter, the Helo TC, which turns your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into a command station. The Griffin Helo TC is a dual-rotor 'copter, like many we've seen over the past few years, but offers iOS control via the free Helo TC app, and all for a relatively bargainous £34.99 ($56).

Intended for indoor use only, the Helo TC comes with a "flight deck module" which is basically an IR dock for your iPhone. That converts the output from the app into IR control signals which the helicopter responds to, either using various on-screen joysticks and controls or – thanks to the accelerometers – with tilt-to-fly, shifting the orientation of the handset to move the chopper.

Flight time from a full charge – via USB – is around eight minutes, and there are five LEDs mounted on the Helo TC for daring night-time raids. Happily the main and tail rotors are replaceable, for the inevitable post-crash recovery, while the flight deck module uses four AAA batteries rather than sucking down your iPhone's charge.

It's not the first time we've seen iOS devices used to remotely-control a flying toy: Parrot's AR.Drone was the must-have quadricopter of 2010. However, whereas the AR.Drone was a hefty $300 at launch, the Griffin is considerably cheaper. You don't get WiFi control or streaming video, but you can store up to three pre-programmed flight plans in the app and have the 'copter repeat them later. Griffin tells us to expect the Helo TC to hit the market in time for Christmas 2011.