This article was published on June 16, 2017

Observation: Sphero needs to make a smart hub

Observation: Sphero needs to make a smart hub
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

It’s time to take notice of Sphero.

Amazon, Google, and Apple make arguably the best smart hubs on the market. Each offers functionality exceeding our wildest dreams even a decade ago. But in building this future we’ve somehow lost ourselves. We find convenience in the generic, but there’s still something unnerving about talking to a device that resembles a Renuzit air freshener.

Who wore it better?

While Apple feeds Siri with more jokes and Amazon adds commands ad nauseam to a device we’re really just using to order more laundry detergent, Sphero is building something truly exceptional. Each iteration of smart hubs is a departure from the wow factor we once recognized. Each is just generic enough to be at home in a college dorm room as Bill Gates’ 66,000 square food Washington palace.

It’s neutral, and not in a good way.

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Sphero — while presumably not trying to make a smart hub — discovered the future of the smart hub, popped it into a box, and sent it to me this morning.

It was an interactive Spiderman toy, although calling it a toy almost seems insulting.

Aside from outstanding design, the device is only slightly larger than Google Home or Amazon Echo, and has connectivity rivaling both. Better, it’s chock-full of personality and snark, all without seeming forced. Okay, the jokes are bad, but the personality of your favorite comic book web-slinger is something to behold.

And it’s something I want in my next smart hub — both in personality and aesthetics.

I mean, just look at this and tell me you wouldn’t want a special edition Spiderman Echo. Or perhaps a Google Home shoved into the likeness of your favorite baseball player? Mario and Luigi pulling double duty as an Apple HomePod?

And it’s not the first toy Sphero’s made we’ve fallen in love with. Remember BB-8? Remember BB-8 watching Star Wars?

Sphero is so good at making toys the world fawns over that it seems a natural progression to use these skills and turn them into something useful beyond the smart toy market. And the industry leaders need to take notice.

Or perhaps Sphero needs to skip right past them and create something amazing of its own.

In the mean time, you can grab your own Spiderman from Sphero for $149 at Amazon. It’s not a smart hub, but it’ll definitely help you pass the time.

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