Written By: Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
From: National Features
October 16, 2012 6:00PM


REMEMBER when The Terminator warned robots would take over the world?

It could be a lot of balls.

The Sphero looks like a simple plaything but this ball is actually a robot. It can light up, roll around on command, trace drawings made on your smartphone and can even be used to play virtual golf.
In short, it could be the most advanced pet toy ever made.

The Sphero was created by engineers from the US state of Colorado who sought to bring smartphone-controlled robots to life. Putting those robotics into a sphere might have been an odd choice, but it’s a lot of fun.

Pick this robot up and you’ll discover it has a hard plastic exterior and a mechanical arm that makes it heavier on one side. Shake it twice and the Sphero turns on and begins to flash.
Users can direct it using Bluetooth and an Apple or Android-based smartphone. The Sphero app is free to download and features a step-by-step guide to getting things rolling.

This involves connecting your phone to the Sphero, pointing its blue pilot light in your direction and guiding a virtual arrow around the screen in the direction you wish the Sphero to move.
Users can also change the colour of the ball and raise or lower the speed at which it travels. Its top speed of 90cm a second should not be attempted without practice, but this ball is surprisingly easy to control at a medium pace.

This basic Sphero app is entertaining in itself and can become transfixing for the user and bystanders alike. The Sphero comes into its own with additional apps, however.
Maker Orbotix has created a host of its own Sphero apps, including a basic app just for pets and a driving app that lets users steer the robot by tilting their smartphone. More advanced examples include SpheroCam, which lets users control the ball and capture video simultaneously, Draw ‘N Drive, which sees the Sphero trace the outline of an on-screen drawing, and our favourite, Sphero Golf 2.0, which lets users set cups, corners or other landmarks as a golf hole while the phone is swung at the ball like a virtual club.

In addition to these rolling apps, the Sphero can also be used to control smartphone games. Several have been created with this in mind, including colour-focused Chromo and space-based Exile.

This 168g ball does have limitations, however. Its battery will only last an hour for every three it spends on charge and some of its apps come with a small cost.

But the biggest limitation is its price: some potential players will baulk at paying $159.95 for a toy.
This toy robot is seriously advanced, simple to master and a lot of fun to use, however.

It’ll be fascinating to see what direction this robot takes next.

iWorld Australia, $159.95
Rating: 4/5

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/news/this-super-sphero-a-real-marvel/story-fnejnj7h-1226497065355#ixzz29c0s6uxK

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