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Sphero, Disney to let you use the force with BB-8 this year

By Leigh D. Stark | 1:22 pm 08/01/2016

When robotics company released Sphero near the end of last year, it was practically a dream come true for any sci-fi nerd who wanted their very own Star Wars robot, but the droid will get even better this year.

Announced at CES, Sphero has another trick up its sleeve for the spherical robot, and when we say it has the trick up its sleeve, we mean it.

Later this year, Disney and Sphero will come together for yet another Star Wars product as BB-8 gets a new master: your hand.

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Just like in the movies, force powers will be granted to any young padawan — that’s a junior Jedi, for those of you not down with the lingo — provided they wear the special “Force Band” bracelet.

When worn, Sphero’s Force Band will talk to the Sphere BB-8 droid and let you use gestures to control the robot. You’ll be able to steer with a wave of your hand, and push BB-8 forward, and then pull him back, all while wearing a small electronic bracelet instead of needing the Apple or Android phone or tablet.

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“Branching out of app-enabled robotics and into new categories that enhance play patterns and user experience has always been our goal,” said Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero.

“We continue to broaden the realm of what’s possible when it comes to robotics and as a result are able to deepen the connection between user and the app-enabled BB-8 Droid product. The introduction of our first gesture based wearable is a major milestone for Sphero.”

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The good news is that all of the BB-8 units sold since it first appeared on shelves at the end of last September will be compatible, and Sphero will even be released a special edition version of BB-8 with a more “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” inspired paint job worn out from battle.

On the other side, however, is the bad news, and that’s the wait time, with this one not expected until at least August onwards, with Sphero citing a “fall 2016″ timeframe for release.

As a guess, we’d suggest Sphero will send the Force Band to store shelves a year on from when it first delivered BB-8 into our lives, so expect this to arrive some time in September.

Until then, bide your time by watching the advertisement, at least until the “The Force Awakens” arrives on Blu-ray and digital, and the new Star Wars movie — yes, another one — hits cinemas at the end of this year.

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