Whilst wondering around this year’s packed CES Unveiled, it was hard not to notice/trip-over the new Sphero 2B from the folks at Orbotix. The 2B is the latest addition to the company’s portfolio of connected, app-controlled, toys. Taking on a new tubular form factor compared with the original Sphero, the 2B comes with interchangeable parts, such as different ‘tyres’ and hubcaps. “Sphero has been ‘round for a couple years now and we wanted to take the fun experience of driving Sphero, redesign it, flip it around, speed it up, and give fans something completely new,” says cofounder Adam Wilson.
We filmed the Sphero 2B in action and got the lowdown from one of their team, check out the video below:
The Sphero 2B, which is made of polycarbonate, will be available in either black or white and can reach speeds of up to 14 ft/s. Users control the 2B via the iOS or Android app over Bluetooth LE which provides a range of around 30m. The device will be available worldwide in Autumn 2014 for “under $100”. You can reserve yourself one, as well as find out more info, by going to GoSphero.com/2B
Last year I had the privilege of playing with Sphero, a crazy little robot ball that you controlled with your smartphone or tablet. It was basically what TV promised us toys of the future would look like- alongside jetpacks and hoover boards. Sphero could roll around and flash colours and was a great way to dazzle small children and cats. Sadly spending £99 on something that replicates the functionality of a ball of wool or keys was prohibitively expensive. The makers of Sphero did create an awesome SDK that enabled programmers to expand Sphero’s potential but that required a lot of additional work on the users behalf (having to seek out other apps) and hard not to imagine quite a few Spheros gathering dust 12 months later.
Well Sphero is back and more Sphero than ever. Although Sphero looks like the same old Sphero, this is not your grandfather’s Sphero. It’s Sphero (2.0). New Sphero can reach speeds of up to 7 feet per second. Interestingly, it doest reach this speeds instantly – you have to level up as you play with the ball, which is an interesting way of bringing video game logic into the real world. It also stops you from getting bored with Sphero and hooks you in for a lot longer. The more efficient drive chain and lower center of gravity means this little guy can really zip along. And the go-faster stripes aren’t the only part of the make over – the new multicolour LEDs make Sphero 2.0 three times brighter than the Sphero of yesteryear.
Sphero also does more – literally of the box. The new Sphero comes with two ramps do you can make Eddie the Eagle Edwards proud. Worried about launching your expensive new toy at speed into the air. Sphero says “relax, I can take it”. But just in case you don’t believe Sphero you can encase Sphero in Nubby, protective all-terrain covers that provide more traction when going outdoors and calming your heart about the leaps you put the little fellow through.
One of the best things about Sphero was the wide world of software available to play around with – you’re not just scooting a ball around a cat. The new update brings this a lot more to the fore with augmented reality apps, racecourses, multiplayer games and simple programming.
Sphero 2.0 will be available worldwide starting 4th September, 2013 for £99.99. For more visit GoSphero.com
Among Michael Bay’s many crimes, first and foremost in my mind is “making robots boring”. Even when I learned as a child that robots existed and mostly put together cars, there was still a fascination with them until Bay managed to make “giant robots fighting” into an epic three-part snoozefest. If only someone could make robots fun again.
Enter Sphero, a delighful app-powered robot for nerds, kids and normal folk (but mostly nerds). Sphero is a robotic ball gaming system that crams a ridiculous amount of technology into one of the simplest toys we have – the ball.
At first glance Sphero is simply a ball and the urge to bounce is hard to resist. Although obviously Sphero is bringing a lot more to the table. How much more? Well that’s actually one of the many interesting things about the device. Sphero is app-controlled and is more of a platform than a singular experience. There are a number of Sphero-related apps in the app store and a small community of nerds tweaking and building more all the time. So there are a whole host of things you could find yourself doing with it. It’s more than just a ball.
It is also a ball however and one of the simple pleasures of Sphero is hooking it up to your iPhone/Android via Bluetooth and using the accelerometer or on-screen controls to manipulate Sphero across the floor. It took me a while to “master” the control system but it’s pretty enjoyable zipping along between the discarded USB keys and iPhone cases that litter my floor. He also swims although I didn’t fancy running a bath to test this out.
You can also make Sphero change colour and controlling a robotic glowing ball of light darting about my carpet is not how I envisaged spending my evenings.
The open-ended nature of Sphero means it can be played with in various ways. There’s a macro app that enables you to create little subroutines and execute them on the spot. If you’re a bit more hardcore you can download the SDK and make a full blown app. One of the more interesting uses I found was using it as a controller to navigate an R-Type style shooter that was similar to playing with a Wii. I also tried out a fun little augmented reality app that utilised my iPad’s camera. Everyone I showed Sphero too was amazed but a little disappointed that you couldn’t have an onboard camera rolling around – even though I have no idea how this would work in practice.
Sphero was fun to play with in short burst and I really got into making little subroutines for it to interact with. It’s somewhere between toy and enthusiasts hobby kit although the price – £99.99 – should warn you that this is a lot more involved than your average app-cessory.
Sphero has just hit these shores and is available from stores such as MenKind and online from Amazon Firebox and Goshpero.com