Sphero’s BB-8 to join “Star Wars” audience

It’s great when robots can truly connect with us more than just being a toy drone or an automated appliance, and one of the more popular Star Wars toys now does that.

Easily the number one item for most geeks and sci-fi fans last holiday season, Sphero’s pint-sized replica of the BB-8 droid from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is this week learning a new trick: becoming a member of the Star Wars watching audience.


A new feature is rolling out to the ball-based robot, and if you decide you want to watch the most recent Star Wars film that is now appearing on digital video networks like iTunes and Google Play Movies, with Blu-ray and DVD to follow in Australia next week, this is made for you.

Specifically, the new feature will make it possible to watch “The Force Awakens” with BB-8, allowing the droid to respond to things happening on screen with droid emotions.

Think electronics gasps, shock, and laughter, because that’s what this is, with the update providing a virtual friend that just so happens to star in the film.


BB-8’s makers Sphero recommend that if you are going to use the feature, leaving BB-8 sitting in his charger makes the most sense, as it will keep the droid charged and able to move left and right, sitting like a member of the audience just as you or your kids might.

How it works, though, is to leave the app running on a phone or tablet as you normally would for controlling the droid, except leave this to listen to the sound from the film. Since the BB-8’s sound normally comes from the phone or tablet controlling him, this will listen to the soundtrack and audio dialogue from the movie and get BB-8 to respond accordingly.


The feature won’t yet work with the older movies, and considering BB-8 wasn’t in those films, we can’t say we’re surprised, but if you do have a BB-8 it’s a neat addition, and if you were considering one because of how cute the robot was, you now have one more reason to grab one.