Sphero – the indestructible robotic programmable ball
Sphero is an indestructible robotic ball that can be used on land and water using an iPhone or iPad as a remote control via Bluetooth. It was selected for my Toy Talk 2014 highly recommended shortlist and still remains at the top of my list of tech toys two years later because of its incredible versatility.
Sphero has a built in gyro and you can use either the joystick or tilt function on your device screen to control it. Watching this video alone will get you hooked on Sphero, one of the best connected toys on the market.
What I love about Sphero is that it bridges both the real and virtual worlds. Children can make it do stuff. They are in control and are not just sitting passively watching a screen. For example:
- There are 25 different Apps for Sphero in the iStore
- Preschoolers can create an obstacle course using real toys such as building blocks, skittles and figurines and then make the Sphero knock them all down
- Slightly older children might want to design a track using tape and then programme the Sphero to follow the track
- You can throw this ball to your dog – it is indestructible
- Families, teens and young people can play fun multi-player games such as Colour Grab
- Make Sphero light up as you play music
- The educational applications of Sphero are endless:
- Schools are using it to teach programming and coding, helping children to explore concepts such as speed, distance and time, providing hands on learning experiences through experimentation in real time
- It is strongly compatible with the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and maths)
- Basic apps like Drive ‘n Draw enable young children to move their finger on the screen of their device to draw a shape such as a triangle, for example, and this will make the Sphero move in a triangular shape
- Macro Lab enables children to use preset commands to get Sphero to roll in different directions, change colour or spin around, for example
- And then kids can advance to doing all their own programming. Educating and teaching machines to do stuff is part of the future
- There are tons of videos on Youtube showing the educational applications of this incredible ball which is why schools are investing it them.
Augmented reality is also part of the Sphero world. Just as Pokemon Go overlays virtual reality over the real world, so does Sphero. You can play Sharky the Beaver and The Rolling Dead among many others, turning your immediate environment into something entirely different. View a video here.
You can buy coloured, silicone, Nubby Covers to give the Sphero more bounce and make it scratch and scuff-resistant. Choose what colour you would like your Sphero to glow. Purchase accessories to create obstacle courses and more.
Sphero has expanded their range to include the SPRK+ (education kit) and the Star Wars BB-8 droid (including a “Force Band” that allows you to control your BB-8) — see below links to more info:
Includes Maze tape, 360 degree protractor and sticker sheet
Sphero SPRK Lightning app (for coding) available for download in the App Store, Google Play, and Kindle Store
More info: http://www.sphero.com/sprk-plus
Recommended retail price: R2,599.00
- BB-8 Droid
Special Edition Star Warms bundle includes a Force Band that allows you to control your BB-8
More info: http://www.sphero.com/starwars/bb8-se
Recommeded retail price: R3,999.00
– BB-8 only retails for R2,999.00
– Force Band only retails for R1,699.00
Sphero was reviewed by Nikki Bush for www.toytalk.co.za
Age category: 4 years – adult
Price: From R2 500 to R4 000
Retail outlets: iStores, gadget shops, Toy Kingdom, ToyZone, Toys R Us etc