Sphero today announced the "Bolt" robotic ball, which is aimed at teaching kids basic programming with its advanced sensors, LED matrix, and infrared communication that lets it interact with other Bolt devices (via Gizmodo).
The Bolt is the same size as previous Sphero balls, but has an increased runtime of two full hours thanks to a bigger battery. The device connects to the Sphero Edu app, allowing users to discover community-created activities, build their own program, analyze sensor data, and more.
One of the device's biggest updates is an 8x8 LED matrix that can be seen through the Bolt's translucent shell. This matrix displays helpful prompts like a lightning bolt when Bolt is charging on its inductive cradle, but users can fully program the matrix to display a wide variety of icons connected to certain actions, like a smiley face when a program is completed.
Infrared sensors allow the Bolt to detect other nearby Bolts, and users can program specific interactions if they have multiple devices. According to Sphero, this means that the Bolts can join up and create a swarm of robotic balls, or avoid one another. Gizmodo gives an example: "So imagine a real-life version of Pac-Man where you're controlling one Bolt and escape other Bolts programmed as ghosts perpetually giving chase."
The Sphero Bolt is available to purchase today for $149.99 on the company's website.