Tech Tuesday: Taking the Sphero 2.0 for a spin
Every so often we get a chance to play with some tech outside our general scope of gadgets. Josh got his hands on a Sphero 2.0, a Bluetooth driven, phone and tablet operated motorised ball. He decided to take it through its paces, over some jumps and around things too.
Picking up the Sphero I had no idea what to expect. Having personally played with many cheap toys and gimmicks that can be connected to a phone or tablet, this seemed to share similar a design. But the Sphero is more than just a gimmick (and you would hope so for the price), this little ball has quite a lot of interesting tech behind it. Allow me to elaborate.
For such a small box, the Sphero offers up a nice selection of tools to start off your fun. The Sphero comes with a wireless charging cradle that is activated by simply by dropping the Sphero into it, there are two ramps included to help you test its abilities (or have it jump your household pet Evil Knievel style) and a holder for the ball when it’s not in use. The ball itself is activated with two taps to the surface, once it’s on it will begin searching for a device to pair with, connect it up and then all that you need is your desired app (and there are a lot of them) and you are away laughing. The ball is super durable made from scratch resistant material so you don’t need to worry about wrecking it too much, it won’t survive to big a drop, but it seems to take a knock here and there without even flinching. It is water resistant so it can handle puddles or a bit of dog slobber. The Sphero has all sorts of uses ranging from simple driving programs, Augmented reality games, Pet toy apps, a Pass-the-bomb game and even has titles where you use the ball as a controller in your hand while you play on your device. Even the actual Sphero app is a blast, forcing you to play mission and beat challenges to unlock new features and upgrade your Sphero to move faster or do tricks.
The Sphero uses Bluetooth 2.0, this connection transfers the data from the device to the units on board hardware, an ARM processor this then talks to the internal Gyro and accelerometer to give it incredible movement accuracy and speed. At its fastest, this little beast will out run most people and with a decent amount of open space you can really have a great deal of fun navigating a pre-made obsticial course or enjoying some play time with your house hold pet. The Sphero uses two 350 mAH batteries with gives users about an hour of play before it runs out of juice. The ball takes about 3 hours to charge so it is a good idea to toss it on the charger when you are finished playing with it. The dual motor setup and its well designed navigation system mean that with a little practice users will be power-sliding around corners and pulling hair-pin turns with very little effort and from there this device is as awesome as the ideas you come up with for its use.
Between party games, racing, pet play and programming possibilities, this device is a huge amount of fun, couple that with the ability to personalize your Sphero’s name and colour scheme and you begin to see that this is not really a waste of money. It is of course an expensive toy (ranging somewhere between $149 – $199) but for those with the money to burn, the Sphero is a wonderful piece of technology. Gadget geeks and tech heads will find endless fun in this device and it is a perfect gift for younger kids. The price tag will turn a lot of people off but those that pony up the cash may find themselves having a surprising amount of enjoyment from this crazy device.
But don’t take my word for it, check out this video of the Sphero in action. Warning: Video may contain cheesy music and happy people.