[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/UPn3jVGQw68″ width=”580″ height=”360″]

BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 16, 2012 – Orbotix, the makers of Sphero, the first robotic ball gaming system controlled by smartphones and tablets, today announced the release of their groundbreaking augmented reality app, Sharky the Beaver. “Using Sphero as the moving fiducial, games can now be created where characters come to life and roam around a user’s house to interact with the real world environment,” said Orbotix CEO Paul Berberian.

While the concept has been around for many years, the technology has lagged due to limitations in processing power and computer vision algorithms. The solution typically is to use fiducials – identifiable fixed markers in the environment to provide clues on how to overlay virtual objects into a real world scene.  These fiducials do not allow for dynamic game play, significant movement, or user interaction. Using Sphero as the moving robotic fiducial, with advanced proprietary algorithms and onboard sensor data from Sphero, Orbotix is able to offer an AR experience never seen before in any commercially available product – let alone in a game system. “The game play is other-worldly. You really embrace the character because of the realistic features, animations, and shadows that fit naturally into the scene. Plus it just works in virtually all environments,” said Berberian.

The app,  Sharky The Beaver, overlays a virtual beaver on top of Sphero. As users drive Sphero with their iOS device, Sharky comes to life and runs around the environment looking for cupcakes.  The user can also rotate their device into portrait mode to toss cupcakes at Sharky as he autonomously runs around.

“While the initial gameplay is fairly basic, we felt it was important to give people an experience that seemed magical. Most people have never used AR, so Sharky will be their first experience and we didn’t want to overwhelm their senses,” said Orbotix co-founder and chief software architect Adam Wilson. “Sharky is so simple that everyone can bring him to life and not get caught up in how it works. The technology disappears and requires no setup – people can just play and enjoy this crazy little cupcake-munching guy running around their house.”

Sharky the Beaver is initially available for iOS and Sphero owners can download the app directly from the iTunes App Store today. Orbotix also plans to release their augmented reality SDK for Sphero in January 2013 so developers can create their own AR games and apps. Go behind-the-scenes at Orbotix and see a video of Sharky the Beaver in-action by viewing the blog post that Orbotix released today: http://sphe.ro/vfydn

With 20+ apps now available, Sphero makes a great gift for this holiday season. It can be found at Target, Brookstone, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Stores. Sphero is also available at GoSphero.com and other online outlets.

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