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'Sphero' Reviews

Review: If You're a Star Wars Superfan, You Need Sphero's BB-9E and R2-D2

Robotics company Sphero skyrocketed to popularity in 2015 with the release of BB-8, a miniature iPhone-controlled toy droid modeled after the BB-8 character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As the release of the The Last Jedi approaches this December, Sphero has introduced two new Star Wars-themed robotic toys, BB-9E and R2-D2. R2-D2 is a well-known classic droid that's starred in Star Wars movies since the original trilogy in the 1970s, while BB-9E, an Astromech droid that serves in the First Order (aka evil BB-8), is a newcomer that will appear in The Last Jedi. Like BB-8, both of Sphero's new droids are exquisitely accurate in design compared to the movie versions, and they come to life when paired with the Sphero app. Design BB-9E shares a design with BB-8, and BB-8 was based on Sphero's original robotic ball technology. BB-9E's body is a plastic sphere that houses a motor, a gyroscope that keeps BB-9E upright, counterweights for balance, internal wheels, magnets, and other electronic components. BB-9E's head attaches to the ball-shaped body using magnets, and a set of wheels underneath the head to allow it to move in around in stay in place on the body while BB-9E is in motion. Instead of a round head like BB-8, BB-9E has a flatter head that fits in better with the First Order aesthetic. Size wise, BB-9E fits in the palm of a hand, and if you own BB-8, BB-9E is the same size. In contrast to BB-8's white and orange design, BB-9E is black with gray accents and red and blue lights (on the head) when in operation. BB-9E is made from a durable

Sphero Review: BB-8 Is a Must-Have Toy for Star Wars Fans

Sphero's been making iPhone-connected ball-shaped robotic toys since 2011, and while the company has been successful with the original Sphero and the Ollie, it stumbled on a major hit this year with the launch of the BB-8, a Star Wars branded iPhone-controlled droid. BB-8 is based on the droid from the upcoming movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It combines Sphero's existing robotic ball technology with the Star Wars universe, a marriage that's resulted in the most appealing, advanced Sphero toy to date. Sphero's BB-8 has a fun backstory and was designed with help from Lucasfilm. Throughout the development process, Lucasfilm provided Sphero with details on BB-8, feedback on the design, and the iconic sounds that bring the toy's personality to life. The "real" BB-8 can be seen in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer Hardware and Design Design wise, the BB-8 consists of a robotic ball, similar to the original Sphero, and a droid head that fits onto the ball using magnets. Under the head, there are a set of wheels that allow it to move around and stay in place on top of the body of the BB-8 while it is in motion. BB-8 is about the size of a baseball and fits in the palm of a hand. If you have a Sphero already, the body of the BB-8 is the same size as the Sphero ball. The head is about the size of half a ping pong ball and is adorned with two ornamental antennae. The body and the head are both made of a smooth plastic and there are LEDs inside that allow BB-8 to light up. This is a pretty durable plastic - even when BB-8 slammed into walls, it remained

'Sphero' Articles

Sphero Debuts Education-Focused 'Bolt' Robotic Ball With Programmable LED Matrix

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 connected Sphero Edu app includes the ability for users to learn to code by drawing on an iOS device's screen, using Scratch blocks, or writing JavaScript text programs. Written programs can affect the Bolt's speed, acceleration, and direction. If users simply want to

Gamevice's iOS Gaming Controller Now Supports Sphero SPRK+ and DJI Spark

Gamevice, a company that makes a Made for iPhone gaming controller for iOS devices, today announced that it has partnered with Sphero and DJI to allow the Gamevice peripheral to control the Sphero SPRK+ robot and the DJI Spark drone. When the Gamevice for iPhone or iPad is used with the DJI Spark app, the Spark drone can be controlled using the physical buttons of the Gamevice, which the company says offers improved precision, control, and ergonomics. DJI does offer its own Spark remote controller, but it is not included in the purchase price and costs an additional $119. At $100, the Gamevice controller is more affordable and it also works with a wide range of iOS games."We designed Spark to be the easiest DJI drone to fly, whether using simple hand gestures, a smartphone or the dedicated remote control," said Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI. "Gamevice gives Spark pilots another simple, highly intuitive way to control their drone, letting them fly, capture and share life's moments while on the go."As for the SPRK+, it's normally controlled via an on-screen joystick using the Sphero app with no physical control option, so the Gamevice is a great addition for those who would rather have access to controller-style input methods. Gamevice offers several different controller options for a wide range of iOS devices on its website. Prices for iOS devices start at

Sphero Launches New R2-Q5 iPhone-Controlled Star Wars Droid

Following the launch of BB-8 in 2015, and R2-D2 and BB-9E last month, Sphero has introduced an all-new iPhone-controlled droid ahead of New York Comic-Con, which begins today. This one is R2-Q5 and is the Imperial counterpart to R2-D2, with a glossy black finish and matte gold trimmings. R2-Q5 first appeared in Return of the Jedi. Similar to Sphero's R2-D2 droid, R2-Q5 has functional lights, a rotating dome, retractable third foot, on-board speakers, and can be piloted manually via the same Sphero app that controls the other Star Wars droids, or patrol on its own. The app has augmented reality features that place R2-Q5 in settings within the Star Wars universe, including the Death Star. You can watch Star Wars movies with the droid and have it react to certain moments within the film as well. R2-Q5™ is an Imperial astromech droid from a galaxy far, far away.... Control it with your smart device or keep this nefarious Droid in top shape with augmented reality training. R2-Q5’s signature front and rear LED lights are fully functional, and an integrated speaker means all sounds come right from the droid itself. Watch R2-Q5 interact with other Star Wars™ App-enabled Droids by Sphero, and view films from the Star Wars saga with R2-Q5 reacting by your side. This special droid has been brought to life thanks to Sphero technology. Sphero is planning R2-Q5 as a much more exclusive model than its previous droids, with only 100 on sale at the company's New York Comic-Con booth today. After that, the droid will debut on Best Buy's site and in stores on November 5 for $199.99. Pr

Sphero Launches Tiny $50 'Sphero Mini' Robotic Ball

Sphero, known for its line of robotic balls and droids, today launched the $50 Sphero Mini, the company's most affordable toy yet. Sphero Mini measures in at about 1.25 inches, making it similar in size to a ping pong ball. It's essentially a tiny version of the original Sphero robotic ball, and it's controlled the same way -- through an app on your iPhone. The Sphero Mini connects to an iPhone using Bluetooth and can be used for playing games, learning to code, playing with pets, and more, thanks to a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, and LED light. Sphero has designed a series of games that use the Mini as a controller mechanism, and with a future update, it will be programmable using the Sphero Edu app. Unique to the Mini is a Face Drive app feature that lets it be controlled via head movements and facial expressions. Sphero Mini can glow in millions of colors with the LED lights, and it has a range of 10 meters. The battery in the Sphero Mini lasts for 45 minutes before needing to be recharged, and charging takes an hour. There are also interchangeable shells in a range of colors that can be purchased for the Mini, as well as a pins and cones accessory pack. Sphero Mini can be purchased from the Sphero website for

Sphero Reveals New iPhone-Controlled R2-D2 and BB-9E Droids

Sphero today unveiled all-new iPhone-controlled Star Wars toys, including R2-D2 and a new character from Star Wars: The Last Jedi called BB-9E (via TechCrunch). This latter droid is described as originating from the same astromech series as BB-8, but is instead associated with the villainous First Order. Similar to Sphero's BB-8 droid from 2015, BB-9E (priced at $149) comes with a set of pre-programmed moves and voice lines, but users can also manually control the droid from their iOS device. BB-9E's head is equipped with LED lights and is magnetically attached to the droid's body, so it can roll around similar to the character within the upcoming movie. The company said that BB-9E will interact with its other Star Wars iPhone-controlled droids, as well as react to Star Wars films when users watch with the droid nearby. Sphero said that BB-9E will receive consistent updates, including new voice lines, particularly as the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi draws closer. Additionally, Sphero revealed an iPhone-controlled R2-D2 droid (priced at $179), which includes all of the same features as the other Star Wars products from Sphero. R2-D2 can patrol on its own and includes fully-functioning LED lights and an integrated speaker that produces the droid's recognizable sounds. Both BB-9E and R2-D2 use the same app that Sphero launched with BB-8 two years ago, so users can simply keep adding new droids to play around with, without needing to download a separate app for each. Both of the new droids will support a few augmented reality experiences in the

Sphero Launches $300 iPhone-Controlled Lightning McQueen From Disney/Pixar's Cars

Continuing its partnership with Disney, Sphero today revealed its newest iPhone-controlled toy, this time themed after the Disney/Pixar Cars character Lightning McQueen. Sphero calls him the "Ultimate Lightning McQueen," letting users drive Lightning remotely via Bluetooth by using an iOS or Android application. Lightning himself has authentic movement and animations which Sphero calls "emotive suspension," which allows Lightning to perform movie-accurate animations beyond simply driving around. According to TechCrunch, which spoke to Sphero about the launch, "his left and right sides also twitch up and down with excitement, and he’ll speak and move in response to taps on his roof, hood and doors." There's a full LCD display on Lightning's windshield that animates the character's eyes, and an animatronic mouth that moves as he talks. During playtime, users can drive Lightning away from them up to 100 feet, and one charge will last around 40 minutes. Sphero worked closley with Pixar creative director Jay Ward and supervising animator Bobby Podesta, to ensure Lightning's personality and look was as close as possible to his representation in the movies. “As our partnership with Disney has evolved, we’ve been able to start to look at further properties within the Disney portfolio,” explained Product Manager Jenica Watts. “One of the teams had the opportunity to build an amazing, lifelike Lightning McQueen.” This was all supervised by Pixar’s Jay Ward, who’s creative director for the Cars franchise, with advice from Bobby Podesta, supervising

Sphero's 'Force Band' Wearable Arrives September 30, Comes With 'Pokemon Go'-Like Mode and BB-8 Control

Back at CES 2016, Sphero debuted a prototype version of the "Force Band," a wearable that allows users to motion control the iPhone-controlled BB-8. While the Force Band can mostly be used to control BB-8 without an iPhone, it has some select features that need an iPhone and Sphero's Star Wars app (via Engadget). The band comes with five modes, two of them for motion controlling BB-8 and other Sphero robots. The three other modes are Force Training Mode, Combat Training Mode and Force Awareness mode. Force Training makes the user follow commands from BB-8 to master Force abilities, allowing the user to "become" a Jedi Knight. Combat Training mode is designed to make the user feel like they're using either a lightsaber or blaster to battle, playing the appropriate sounds based on hand movement. Force Awareness mode plays like a simplified version of Pokemon Go, with the band pinging a user when they're nearing a Holocron, which look to be some sort of digital collecting card displaying Star Wars characters and items in the app. When a user is out in the world and they are physically near a Holocron, the band alerts the user. They can then take out their iPhone, look at the app, and see what Holocron they obtained. However, it's unclear whether Force Awareness mode uses a mapping system similar to Pokemon Go. Sphero also announced a special edition battle-worn edition of BB-8 that looks slightly dirtier and worn out. Both the Force Band and battle-worn BB-8 will be available on September 30. The Force Band will be available for $79, but there'll also be a

CES 2016: Sphero Debuts Wearable 'Force Band' For Controlling BB-8 Droid

Sphero's iPhone-connected robotic BB-8 droid was one of the hottest gifts this holiday season, and Sphero is hoping to maintain that momentum with the introduction of the Force Band, a wearable wristband that will allow BB-8 owners to control the droid using gestures. For those unfamiliar with Sphero's BB-8, it's a small replica of the BB-8 droid that starred in the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie. BB-8 is based on years of past iPhone-connected ball-shaped robotic toys that Sphero has released, and in our review, we called it Sphero's best toy yet. The Force Band isn't going to ship out until later in 2016, but Sphero has a prototype available at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The Verge was able to go hands-on with the Force Band and gave some insight into how it works. BB-8's speed is controlled by hand elevation and direction is controlled by the orientation of the hand. Resting your hand to your side enters driving mode. With your palm down, Sphero looks away from you; with your palm up it looks toward you. Spin in place, and BB-8 spins with you. The direction also dictates where it drives, and the rolling speed is at least somewhat affected by your hand's elevation. Waving your hand in place will enter a gesture mode -- the only one that worked for me was a nod "yes" when we did a quick right jab -- and then putting your hand back down re-engages driving mode.Sphero's Force Band is an interesting solution because it will turn the BB-8 into Sphero's first product that won't exclusively require a smartphone for control. With the

Sphero Announces iPhone-Controlled BB-8 Droid From 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Sphero, the company responsible for creating robotic balls that can be controlled by iPhones, today announced a remote-controlled BB-8, a droid from the upcoming film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." While BB-8 can be controlled with an iPhone, it also comes with a patrol mode that allows the droid to roam around by himself. Users can also design their own routes and have BB-8 follow them. Additionally, Sphero says BB-8 has an "adaptive personality" and his "attitude" and actions will evolve the more a user interacts with him. BB-8 can also receive voice commands via the app, which means that a user can say "move forward" and BB-8 will move forward. While Sphero developed this version of BB-8 as a connected toy, the company was instrumental in the development of the BB-8 droid used in the actual movie. The company was a part of Disney's accelerator program and was paired with Disney CEO Bob Iger as its mentor. When Iger visited with Sphero to see the robotic ball they were working on, he realized the technology could be used for BB-8, who at the time was still being designed. He connected Sphero to the filmmakers and special effects people behind the film and they collaborated on the real BB-8, which was shown off at the Star Wars Celebration convention in May. The toy version of BB-8 will go on sale on September 4, 2015 as a part of "Force Friday," which is when toys and merchandise from "The Force Awakens" officially go on sale. BB-8 will be available for $149.99 at Sphero.com and Apple Stores.