If you've been on the Internet this week, you've probably seen the marketing blitz for the new line of toys for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The crown jewel among innumerable action figures and LEGO sets is the miniature BB-8, a customized version of Sphero's ball toy with Star Wars paint and a "head" that bobs around and stays on top of the ball as it rolls along. Though the BB-8 is mechanically identical to a regular Sphero, you'll need a specialized Sphero app on Android or iOS to actually play with the thing.
When it comes to toys you can control from your smartphone, few are quite as fun or inspiring as Sphero. Orbotix blew onto the scene a little over a year ago with an awesome choreographed display in Union Square. The company followed up on the original with an upgraded v2.0 of the robotic ball which began shipping in September, but that wasn't to be the end of the line. Orbotix is at it again with a completely redesigned robot, dubbed Sphero 2B.
The new form factor abandons the spherical shape of its predecessors for a more elongated body and a pair of serious off-road tires - it almost looks like a futuristic monster truck.
The original Sphero was an interesting idea, but it was a bit delicate and underpowered. Sphero 2.0 might be worth some consideration, though. Orbotix has made the new Sphero twice as fast (about 7 ft per second) and packed in a bunch of LEDs to make it three times brighter than Sphero 1.0. The company is also dropping an updated driving app to go with the new ball.
To show off the increased speed and acceleration, Orbotix is including two ramps in the box so you can catch some air with Sphero 2.0. There is an optional "Nubby" accessory cover that gives the Sphero more grip and makes it waterproof for harsh environments.
Sphero is a remote-controlled ball that's been making the rounds in both the toy and tech worlds for the last few years. With omni-directional motion and a gyroscopic sensor, it's a combination of remote-controlled toy and Bluetooth game controller, with the requisite smartphone control via Bluetooth. Today Amazon has the Sphero toy for $84.99, $45 off the retail price of $129.99. Like all of Amazon's Gold Box deals, this price is good for one day only. Amazon Prime members can get free domestic 2-day shipping as well.
So what can Sphero do? Well the most obvious application is as a remote controlled toy, zipping around carpets and tile like a possessed polycarbonate ball.
What? You don't have a Sphero? Well, you're going to need one to play this amusing free game. Sphero is a neat little ball-shaped robot that rolls around in response to things going on inside your phone. In this case it rolls around your floor killing augmented reality zombies with fireballs. That's got pretty much all the makings of something awesome.
So you point your device's camera at the Sphero, and the undead will attack. As you guide your sphere of death around in real life, the virtual zombies respond to it. You can play the game anyplace there is a flat enough surface for the Sphero to roll around on.
If you've got a hundred dollars to burn and love awesome technological toys, J&R has a deal for you. The self-described "gadget wonderland" is offering the Sphero ball for $99.99, a $30 drop from its normal price of $129.99.
For those unaware, the Sphero is a robotic sphere than can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet. The concept sounds simplistic, but all it takes is a bit of imagination to make Sphero an awesome gadget. Readers may remember Sphero's holiday display in New York last year:
What's more, Sphero has an open API, allowing developers to make their own Sphero apps.
If you have a Sphero – the Bluetooth-controlled robot ball – then you know just how much fun they can be. If you happen to have more than one Sphero, you're in for a real treat, as you can now operate multiple Spheros from a single device, thanks to a new feature in the app called Multi-Ball.
It's worth noting that Multi-Ball is still in its experimental stages for the time being, so it may not work properly 100% of the time.
To use the feature, all you need to do is select each ball individually from the connection screen, hit done, and...
Alright, yes. We've spent over a month getting upset because Christmas starts just way too dang early these days. It's December now, though. Is it finally okay to get in the holiday spirit a bit? Cool. Because these Spheros—robotic balls that can be remotely controlled by Android and carry an array of sensors and lights—are beautiful. The company behind the bots choreographed these 28 units to the tune of Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24, as performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
For the unaware, the song is a mashup of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells, originally recorded by Savatage on the album Dead Winter Dead.
Are you excited to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Have you taken out a second mortgage to pay for all the new action figures, LEGO sets, Millennium Falcon quadcopters, and a tiny army of BB-8 Sphero droids? And do you still have about twenty-five bucks left over? Then you might want to check out the latest licensed phone decals from Slickwraps, starring none other than Darth Vader and Stormtrooper #5. According to the official Empire Strikes Back Annotated Companion, his name was Martoona Chumscrubly and he once served Obi-Wan a Coke in the Mos Eisley Cantina before being press-ganged onto a Star Destroyer, getting a mild burn from a stray laser blast delivered by Han Solo, and retiring with disability pay to another galaxy with less obsessive lore.
There's no nice way to say this: interesting and new apps were a bit thin on the ground in September. Maybe it was the double-threat of new announcements from both Google and Apple that scared off developers, or maybe they're all hung up on ancient Green Day lyrics. Either way, things were looking pretty sparse, but we still managed to find a few interesting tidbits for you. Here are our top seven and a few honorable mentions.