One new Star Wars character from the upcoming movie that received a major ovation from the fans is the robot BB-8. Sphero, working together with Disney, has taken on the challenge to bring it into your home in time to celebrate the movie premiere.
BB-8 comes to your home
In the trailers for the new Star Wars movie a new robot showed up, BB-8, that caught the attention of the fans right away. The body is a rolling sphere and the head is a half-dome hovering above. The combination of ruggedness and cuteness made it an instant hit. At the Anaheim convention in April, BB-8 rolled onto the stage and the crowd responded wildly.
Foto source: Star Wars
Is it possible to deliver in a toy the concept from the movie? The story of Sphero’s BB-8 starts with the first contact with Disney. In 2014 Sphero was accepted in the Disney Accelerator program. From there, the company became involved with the movie and then created the toy that can be put in the hands of every fan.
In case of the movie, special effects and editing allowed the use of an entire set of BB-8’s that each had different capabilities. For the toy, the challenge was more complicated. There was a need for a single version that was able to bring the magic of the character to real life.
The final version manages to deliver. BB-8 is controlled through an app from a smartphone or a tablet and its movements are accompanied by gestures that cover an array of emotions. Sound is provided by the accompanying app and the control of the movement is precise.
Besides the controlled movement, the toy can be put in patrol mode and it will build its own map of the environment. The interesting part for the fans eagerly awaiting the movie premiere in December is that BB-8 will mark its arrival through a change in behaviour.
Don’t try to extract these secrets out of it because it doesn’t know them (yet)! BB-8 is able to receive firmware updates and it will receive a new one in December. On December 18 you can celebrate the premiere together with BB-8! It is expected it will be the star of the sales for the holiday season.
BB-8 is more than a toy
Sphero has promoted from its inception the introduction of robots in a fun way rather than strictly functional. If Star Wars action figures have always been a hit (merchandising sold for 3 billion dollars in 2011), BB-8 brings along the concept of companion. The self initiated actions and the heuristics that provide its personality deliver innovation beyond the Star Wars franchise.
The programming used for BB-8 has potential for serious use. Paul Berberian, Sphero CEO, estimates that BB-8 taps into 1% of its potential. The possibilities for use extend from controlling dump trucks and construction cranes to helicopters and submarines. In the patrol mode BB-8 incorporates abilities like object tracking and recognition. Building toys is actually a smart way to test daring new technologies because “gaming is a very forgiving environment where people are willing to try new things” explains Berberian.
BB-8 does a good job of bringing the Star Wars magic in your home and yet, the toy has a story of its own to tell if you pay attention to the little rolling ball. You can find it on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.