Ask Sphero, the toy company that developed BB-8, a ball robot featured in the latest episode of Star Wars, The Force Awakens.
Sphero has been manufacturing app-enabled robotic balls since 2010. In 2015 Sphero was invited to Disney Accelerator Program to work on their next robot ball toy. That’s where the magic happened. Sphero team showcased their product to Disney CEO Bob Iger, and, realized that the next R2-D2 in The Force Awakens looked exactly like what they were doing, as Iger showed the pictures of the new droid on his Iphone.
“In the course of 60 seconds, you process that this could be huge. We even knew how to do the head, we already had the technology”, says Sphero CEO Paul Berberian. Eventually, the toy sold 22,000 units in just 12 hours after release and achieved toy-of-the-year status. At $150, Sphero is much more expensive than most Star Wars merchandise. Yet in terms of overall sales value, Berberian says, “we are selling better than any other product out there” in the history of Star Wars.
“BB-8 is more than a toy – it’s your companion.”
BB-8 aims to change the way people interacted with robots. It has something unlike any other robot- an adaptive personality that changes as you play. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the physical droid is light and incredibly detailed. You need to connect the droid with the app to start playing. You can drive BB-8 with video-game inspired controls, moving your thumb around the screen and watching the little droid rolling around. With your other thumb you can interact with him, asking questions and hearing his mechanical responses emanating from your mobile device perfectly in sync with his physical movements. Based on your interactions, BB-8 will show a range of expressions and react whenever you give voice commands.
Order BB-8 on Sphero website
Image credit: Brent Clouse