While making my way to an appointment in the Los Angeles Convention Center
Concourse Hall meeting rooms, I spotted something very interesting in one of the
rooms. Ramps and cones were set up, and colored balls were moving on their own.
My curiosity was piqued, so I asked some questions and found out some
information about Sphero, the Robotic Gaming System.
Sphero was released in December of 2011 after a one-year development cycle.
Inside of the ball is a responsive robot that reacts to bluetooth commands from
an iOS or Android device from a range of 50 feet or more. Programmable LED
lights on the inside of the sphere allow for thousands of different color
combinations, which can be used for show or for certain game applications.
Sphero has an internal guidance system with an accelerometer and gyro, and it
can move at speeds of 3 feet per second.
It’s a neat little device, but driving a sphere is just a small sample of
what Sphero can do. Games, music apps, and photo apps are already available to
enhance the basic capabilities of Sphero, and open development means that more
apps are coming all the time. The apps are cheap, too; first-party apps are
free, and third-party apps usually sell for only $1. One app that I was shown
used the Sphero as a controller for a shooter, which was a pretty neat use for
what I thought was just a radio-controlled ball.
There was a lot more than met the eye for this little ball, and it makes a
great little gadget. It’s durable, waterproof, and has a lot of potential as
developers continue to learn the technology. Sphero retails for
$130 and is in the process of being sold via more retailers. For more info check
out the official website at