Sphero's BB-8 App-Enabled Droid Uses Bluetooth Low Energy to Bring Star Wars to Life in Your Home
It's been amazing what a marketing giant Sphero has become, expanding on a simple concept of a Sphero 2.0 App enabled ball to partnership with Disney to extend the Star Wars fantasy world into your home. Timing couldn't be better with the introduction of the BB-8 Star Wars robot character that Sphero could make it come alive and the advancement of Bluetooth Low Energy technology on every smartphone.
After enjoying our SPRK+ (the educational version of the Sphero 2.0 that allows you to program it) and being pleasantly surprised when Sphero immediately replaced our SPRK+ when it stopped working one day, we purchased the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid which made a lot of improvement compared to the original version which had a unrealistic wobbly head.
Sphero's impressive Star Wars themed lineup was at full display at the Apple Store in San Francisco, California including the Sphero R2-Q5 App-Enabled Droid, Sphero BB-9E App-Enabled Droid with Trainer, and Sphero R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid.
The fantasy experience starts with the packaging of the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid itself. The packaging is extremely well done, and looks like you are buying a real Star Wars droid. You need to look closely to identify that it is actually a Sphero product.
While the packaging has some retail marketing elements to it, the inner box gets you thoroughly in a Star Wars experience where the box looks like a miniature home for the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid.
The BB-8 App-Enabled Droid itself sits very snugly in the box, together with its charging base home.
There is also a separate box for the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid's training pad.
In addition to the charging base, training pad, and documentation there is also a USB Type-A to Micro-B cable for providing power to the charging base.
The wireless charging base takes 2.5 watts (5 volts @ .5 amps).
There is also a button on the charging base which when pressed with the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid on the base, will light up the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid and make it behave like it is alive.
The charging base needs to have the bottom of the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid to align the internal wireless charging receiver of the droid with the bottom of the charging base.
The BB-8 App-Enabled Droid also has a training pad that can be split opened. You can keep the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid constrained on the training pad while using Augmented Reality to drive the Droid in a virtual world.
The BB-8 App-Enabled Droid can be placed on the training pad to allow you to play with your droid in augmented reality games found in the Sphero BB-8 App while keeping the droid in place.
The training pad has four rubber feet to keep it from moving on your desktop surface.
The body of the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid is similar to the Sphero and probably has the same internal mechanics.
The head is removable and stuck through magnetics only to the top of the main body.
The BB-8 App-Enabled Droid uses magnetics which are stronger than the previous version making it much less wobbly.
The BB-8 App-Enabled Droid charges wirelessly but doesn't use the Qi standard so doesn't work with Qi based chargers. Using the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid's own wireless charger, the droid draws about 3 watts (5 volts @ .6 amps) when charging.
The BB-8 App-Enabled Droid uses Bluetooth Low Energy to detect and communicate with smartphones and tablets, other Sphero Star Wars droids, and the Force Band to create a lot of fun ways to play and interact with the droid.