Orbotix, the company behind Sphero, the smartphone app-controlled ball that caused such a stir last year, is looking to push the limits of its toy with the release of Sphero 2.0. The new device, priced at $129 features a host of interesting enhancements that should keep users occupied for quite some time. Improvements include a leaner, more powerful version of the white ball, that lets users increase Sphero's speed, handling and other attributes as they complete different app challenges.
The key to Sphero's newfound speed is a lower center of gravity, that allows the ball to move as fast as 7 feet per second. The gadget also gets enhanced driving dynamics that allow for better cornering and turning while on the go and while it's stationary. Orbotix has also given the ball some aesthetic improvements including brighter internal lights.
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As with the original, Sphero 2.0 features a high-impact polycarbonate shell that can survive most small drops and keep its internals dry in up to 15 feet of water. This time around Orbotrix has chosen to package the robotic ball with two free ramps to up the fun factor. A new Nubby cover is also available to help absorb impacts when Sphero 2.0 takes a serious spill.
It's not just Sphero that gets some upgrades. Orbotrix is giving users a boatload of new apps for the toy ball. Newcomers include "The Rolling Dead," a zombie-based game that lets users roll over the undead to collect points, and "Sharky the Beaver," which uses augmented reality to transform Sphero into an animated beaver in your smartphone's display. As you move your Sphero, Sharky, dances around to tunes.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Sphero 2.0 is its new Sphero MacroLab, which gives kids a taste of what it's like to program for the toy ball, by providing them with 30 commands they can use to create different control macros. Users can then drill down into those commands by adjusting individual settings.
Sphero 2.0 is currently available for pre-order and goes on sale Aug. 30.