Sphero Robotic Ball Controlled by a Smartphone or Tablet with Augmented Reality Game App

Sphero Ball

Sphero isn’t just a ball, it’s a robotic game that integrates with your smartphone or tablet. Although Sphero was introduced to CES a year ago, it is now making a bigger entrance this year for CES and it’s gaming world with more apps and games for iOS and Android.

The team behind Sphero is from Boulder, Colorado and is part of the startup by Orbotix under the website GoSphero.com. Orbotix was founded by passionate robotic engineers and are working to bring the real world to smartphone devices. The Orbotix team takes fun very seriously and loves trying to get you involved with them and their Sphero robotic ball.

This new gaming system is the first robotic ball that you can control with a tilt, touch, or a swipe of your finger from your device. You can drive Sphero, play tabletop and multi-player games, hold Sphero in your hand to use it as a controller for on-screen gameplay, learn basic programming, and even explore augmented reality.

So how does this robotic ball work? Well, there’s a gyroscope and an accelerometer inside the ball that talk to your device and two little rubber wheels. The sensors give pitch and roll information to the app you’re playing with so that the computer knows what Sphero is up to. A counterweight helps get the mechanism moving when you tell it to.

Co-founder, Ian Bernstein says they designed it to be tough, but “it turned out to be way, way, way tougher than we’d ever thought. The casing is made of high-density polycarbonate similar to Nalgene bottles, which the very technological term for crazy strong.” Sphero has been dropped 25 feet (7.6 meters) onto carpet, thrown and driven by incompetent television hosts to no ill effect.

With all tech aside, the little robotic ball is hard not to like with it’s personality-like demeanor and the augmented reality only makes it that much better.

Sharky the Beaver was the first app for augmented reality by Sphero, in which you can take a virtual 3-dimensional character a walk or run around your house. You can interact with the Sharky the Beaver by launching Cupcakes into his mouth.

In another game called the Rolling Dead zombies attack Sphero, who is rolling around the carpet while you play from your handheld device.

During CES, Chris Torres of Nyan Cat was there hanging out at the Sphero booth to show off his Sphero Nyan Cat SpaceParty and demo an augmented reality Sphero and Nyan Cat app that is planned for release in 2013.

While the robotic ball cost you around $129.99, most of the 20+ apps now available for Sphero are free.

Sphero Ball Racing Through CES 2013 & Live Demo From Chuck Lepley

Chuck Lepley from Orbotix.com walks z6mag.com through Sphero, “A new way to play” an interactive gaming product. While Chuck was telling us about the product, CES attendees were racing the Sphero robotic ball with smartphones and tablets around a racetrack during CES 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As long as you have an iOS or Android device you can connect to the Sphero robot.

Sphero 2013 Demo of the Augmented Reality Applications and Games

Chuck uses a tablet to control Sphero as you can see the augmented reality Nyan Cat turn around and run away or towards you as the cat spreads his famous rainbow. The augmented reality technology was released in November 2012 for Orbotix’s Sphero. Chuck Lepley says they’re just getting started with this part of the business but it’s definitely growing and just getting better.

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