If you’re a fan of the movie “Star Wars”, there’s a good chance you dreamt of owning a piece the movie when you were younger. Your dreams may still return, but there’s new hope because when the force awakens, you might get to strike that off your bucket list.
The next Star Wars movie is out later this year in December, but you might get to play with technology shown in the movie long before cinemas get the next episode in the long running franchise, provided you can get them before they all sell out.
This week, the company is releasing a toy equivalent of something rolling right out of “The Force Awakens”, and to see what we’re talking about, it’s worth checking out the trailer of that next Star Wars movie below (and even if you’ve seen it a few times, go watch it again).
At 30 seconds into the trailer, you’ll see a little ball roll across the screen. That is BB-8, and while fan favourites R2-D2 and C3PO are sure to make an appearance in the film, BB-8 is the new robot that will grab the attention of fans this year.
But while you couldn’t get R2D2 in a robotic form when you were a kid, you will be able to get BB-8 as an adult. Or even for your kids. But mostly for yourself.
Above is what Sphero’s BB-8 will look like, and while he’s a little smaller than the model that is appearing in the movie, this one — the one that you can buy in Australian stores — will be able to roll around either by himself or if you control him because he is a robot.
Speaking to Sphero about the concept, it’s a very similar gadget to the thing that started Sphero down its track of making modern robotic toys, with the original Sphero ball reinventing the remote control vehicle by turning it into a ball that rolled where your phone or tablet told it to.
More than just another drone-like device, the Sphero remote control ball could teach people how to program, relying on macro commands and BASIC level programming to get kids and adults thinking and working like a programmer.
Looking at BB-8, it’s clear where the inspiration is drawn because the character is essentially a robotic ball with a head on top. In fact, Sphero’s developers have had to throw a few bits and pieces here and there inside this one, while also pulling back on the programming side of things to build what is in essence an interactive robotic toy.
As such, there is actually a small metal post inside BB-8 that connects to his magnetic head sitting up top, allowing the unit to keep the head up top as the ball spins when he moves.
In the brief pre-production play through we had with Sphero’s BB-8, we found his head leaned forward quite a bit as he rolled, though its developers did say they were ironing out bugs which could lead to a fix for this.
Certainly, though, the setup of BB-8 as a functioning rolling robot straight from the film was something that made our eyes light up, and recalled the first time we saw a Star Wars astromech droid and said “I want one of those now!”