May the 4th be with you...
The release of the upcoming Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has caused a an uproar in the community as the spherical, rolling droid, dubbed the BB-8, is not CGI or a prop! The BB-8 droid is real! It made its first appearance to the public on April 16th, at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, California. The crowed burst into uproarious applause as the BB-8 droid rolled onstage and R2-D2 chirped and tweeted together in a battle of old tech v. new tech.
What’s more? I took less than two days for a savvy maker to create his very own BB-8 robot at home! One should never underestimate the maker community. Christian Poulsen, and industrial designer, used a Sphero and a CNC machine to create his very own cute BB-8 droid – complete with an empire paint design. The creation was pretty simple. Poulsen just split open a 1st gen Sphero and attached neodymium magnet onto the stabilization arm. Then, he created a head for the robot, fitted with a magnet and some felt to ensure that the head could slide along the surface of the Sphero. The only issue with a homemade BB-8 is that you’ll have to figure out a way to recalibrate the gyroscopes. The head adds too much weight into the equation and makes the BB-8 roll in one direction, unless you give it a helpful push. You can see a video of the homemade bot here:
A few days after the release of the BB-8 droid on stage in CA, Sphero confirmed that they were part of the Disney team that created the BB-8 Star Wars droid. Of course, there were already rumors that this was the case, but Sphero’s confirmation has sparked a slew of other potential projects.
Inside the classic Sphero toy... how BB-8 keeps its head up... that is a secret. (via Sphero)
The Chief Creative Director of Sphero, Rob Maigret, released a statement revealing that Sphero intends to release a line of consumer products that allow users to have their very own droid movie memorabilia. Of course, it didn’t take long for another statement to be released about an upcoming BB-8 droid toy that is expected for release on September 1st at a retail price of $150.
The Sphero team will be creating the toy tech, along with the Disney team. The functioning BB-8 droid toy will be about the size of a large apple and users will be able to control the droid their iPhone. If you want one, they are expected to be sold at Disney stores and select specialty retailers. The current release date is tentative, but the toy should be out before the upcoming Christmas season.
But Sphero isn’t stopping here; they have recently announced that they are entering the market for education. Sphero has a new initiative called, SPRK (Schools Parents Robots Kids), in which they are allowing schools to adopt their technology to learn about programming and have fun doing so. You can learn more about the initiative here and get involved if you like: http://www.gosphero.com/education/.
It seems like Sphero is leading a new trend for out-of-the-box robots for the consumer market. I suspect a swarm of BB-8 droids in the near future.
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