Toy robot maker Sphero hasn't had the best time of late, with slow sales forcing job cuts this time last year and, more recently, an end to production of some of its licensed products. There must be high hopes for its latest product, then, which is a new type of musical instrument for that responds to different colors.

The cleverly-named Specdrums started life as a Kickstarter project before partnering with Sphero. Early backers could have picked one up for as little as $29, but now $64.99 gets you a single white silicone ring ($99.99 for two) with embedded motion and light sensors. It also comes with a colored play pad to tap the rings on, although you can use any colorful object to produce audio.

Bluetooth is used to connect the rings to the Specdrums app (or any BT Midi app, for that matter) and this allows you to customize the sound from a catalog including drum beats, keyboards, and more than 100 other instruments.

Although novel, Sphero hopes the rings will be used for educational purposes, particularly in STEAM learning programs. They'll have two-hour battery life and charge over what looks like Micro-USB. Specdrums are on sale right now from the official Sphero site before coming to stores in the spring.

Specdrums
Specdrums
Developer: Specdrums
Price: Free

Press Release

Sphero Launches Music Experience with Specdrums, Tapping into the Arts

Leader in STEAM learning introduces a way to compose code and use the world as an instrument

BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sphero, the technology company utilizing play as a powerful teacher, today announces the launch of Specdrums, the STEAM learning brand’s first music-focused product, available January 7. Specdrums are musical, app-enabled rings that empower kids of all ages and skill levels to create and play music by using colors on a variety of surfaces as their instruments.

Specdrums meets kids where they are, from beginners to the artistically-inclined, and connects coding and technology with kids’ ability to move and tap to create rhythm and sound. Kids can create their own masterpieces on the corresponding Specdrums app with hundreds of instruments, loops and sounds.

“Sphero recognizes Specdrums as an opportunity to engage kids at the intersection of arts, math, science and technology, building a parallel framework between coding and music composition,” said Paul Berberian, CEO, Sphero. “By seeing the world around them as a canvas, kids are able to use Specdrums to create their own songs using coding, which is really exciting for them, their parents and their teachers. Meanwhile, the creative pattern-making of loops and sounds strengthens their math and problem-solving skills.”

Studies have shown that music can improve students’ critical reasoning, language skills and fine motor skills. Music and the arts also present an entry point to technology for kids who may not have otherwise explored it, and vice versa. With Specdrums, kids can discover an artistic form of coding using their imagination, whether it’s in the classroom, at a friend’s house or on the playground.

Specdrums retails at $64.99 for one-ring and $99.99 for two-rings and introduces a variety of features that encourage exploration and creation through the arts, including:

  • Customizable sounds that allow users to explore the beats of a drum, the pings of a keyboard or the unique sounds of 100-plus other instruments, all with their fingertips
  • Durable app-enabled silicon rings with motion and light sensors that turn surrounding colors into sound
  • Multi-color playpad to tap the rings on, though you can just as easily play on the colors in the world around you
  • Bluetooth capabilities so users can easily connect, play and learn
  • Compatible with all apps that integrate Bluetooth MIDI

Specdrums was developed with educators in mind and transitions well from the home into the classroom, supplementing students’ use of more costly, singular instruments and providing classrooms with cost-effective modern technology. Educators can build a fully integrated tech-to-classroom experience through both STEM and fine arts fundamentals. Research has shown that students who have access to the arts in school have better attendance and improved academic outcomes. Meanwhile, arts and music education has experienced severe budget cuts in schools across the nation. With Specdrums, Sphero will be able to reach even more classrooms across the world to help teachers engage students effectively through hands-on music and STEAM tools.

Available on Jan. 7 at Sphero.com, Specdrums retails at $64.99 for one-ring and $99.99 for two-rings, with product shipping the week of January 15. Specdrums will debut at select retail stores in Spring 2019. Specdrums works alongside Specdrums Mix, available for free download on iOS or Android.

To learn more and purchase Sphero Specdrums, visit Sphero.com or follow them on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.