You might remember, a few months ago, when I wrote about TechStars graduate Orbotix and its first product called Sphero. The somewhat-amazing toy won my heart for being not only 100% geek credible but also because the team has figured out how to make the thing incredibly engaging with pre-loaded games that you’ll actually want to play.
If you missed what Sphero is, here’s a quick recap – Sphero is a small robot that lives inside of a ball. It’s controlled via Bluetooth from your iPhone, iPod touch or Android device with a range of around 50 feet. There’s full RGB control over the LED color, allowing you to change the look of your Sphero to suit your mood and a single, cable-free, induction charge will let Sphero run for over an hour of constant play.
While the toy itself is incredibly impressive, the games that have been developed for Sphero help to seal the deal. Designed to be multi-player capable, you can engage with your friends in a Pong-like game, a flick-driven golf, SpheroCam which lets you take video or snapshots, Draw N’ Drive for tracking paths with your finger while Sphero follows them and Blox, a game that lets you program your Sphero to follow long patterns.
Better yet is that Sphero has an API, allowing developers to make even more games for the robotic ball, assuring that we’ll have even more options for play for years to come.
When I met the team, they told me that Sphero would be available for the holiday season of this year, and they’ve held true to their word. Pre-orders of the Sphero are now available, for $129.99, with shipping starting in December.
Unfortunately, for now, pre-orders are for the US only. The Orbotix team tells me that international ordered will open in 2012, so those not in the US will need to find an American friend if they want a Sphero before then.
While chances are good that you’ve started picking out items for your geek-certified Christmas list, make sure to give Sphero a look. It’s the first toy in years about which I’ve been this excited, and it’s worth every penny of $129.
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