Buckle up Star Wars fans, you are about to hyperdrive through space and time to meet Star Wars’ BB-8. For those of you who still have no clue as to what I am referring to, BB-8 is an artificial intelligence robot featured in the most recent follow-up of the Star Wars sequels “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. BB-8 is an evolution over R2D2 and C3PO that have been fabled through two decades.
Sphero, the manufacturer of app-controlled knick-knacks, designed BB-8’s miniature prototype that runs on commands sent through a smartphone app. It is an unanticipated piece of Star Wars merchandise and the first robotic plaything ever to have existed with a Star Wars tag.
I have to admit I was pretty excited when I first got my hands on this little fellow that sits tight in a beautifully crafted and designed packaging. Also included in the box are a wireless, inductive charging pod for the droid and a USB cable. The box has a high-quality print of the BB-8 from the movie. The box in the box packaging has information printed all over it including the functions that the droid can perform. The droid and the charging pod rest in a cushion which leaves no scope for damage.
Design & Price
BB-8 is a better sculpted Sphero with a cute little head on top that’s attached magnetically. The head is, of course, detachable and the droid is sculpted out with polycarbonate. LEDs in red, yellow and blue rest inside this cute and small ball that rolls around from one corner of the room to the other.
BB-8 takes a technological leap ahead of the Star Wars merchandise, which attracts as much attention as the movie, and makes this first ever robotic Star Wars toy a must have for the diehard fan. Priced at an exaggerated $149.99 in the U.S. BB-8 is available for sale in Apple stores, Best Buys and Sphero’s website.
Sphero joined Disney as a part of the Disney Accelerator Program and came up with BB-8 in September 2015. The droid is basically a Sphero with some custom BB-8 graphics imprints. It is controlled through a Star Wars themed smartphone app available on Google Play Store as well as Apple’s App Store.
BB-8 can be driven around using a smartphone as the remote or you can send it on a patrol and it will roam about freely in the ambience observing objects around it and occasionally expressing its mood of disapproval or joy with its squeaky little sound. If it bumps into a wall or a hard object it spins around for a while and a red LED shines up in its translucent body. This small ball of joy attracts everyone’s attention around it.
It uses an induction charging pod which is powered by a USB cable connected to a PC or an adapter. A 3-hour charge runs this toy for about an hour. Since the droid is connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, overheating and rapid exhaustion of smartphone battery is an issue. Even in its charging pod BB-8 makes curious whims and quirks expressing impatience on its part.
It can also be voice-controlled through a set of pre-programmed voice commands. There also are 12 commands available in the drive mode such as a command that makes it go round in the shape of the infinity sign. The droid is quite fast and if moving at full speeds often bumps into walls or objects but that hardly causes any malfunction or damage to this piece of crazy gadget. The droid is more than durable for indoor engagements. Its structure offers a lot of resistance while on a rug or on a soft surface making it difficult to move.
The product catalogue mentions that the BB-8 displays recorded holographic messages which it does but only on the app screen. Let me explain, you record a message on your phone and once you are done a screen appears which says that the message is now being transmitted to BB-8. So, now you expect BB-8 to project that message on a wall or on some surface like a projector but what actually happens is the camera of your smartphone is turned on and the holographic message starts loop playing on your smartphone. Similar to masks and emoji on a Snapchat screen. And that’s about it. But projectors are expensive and installing one on BB-8 will increase its price 3 folds.
You can also place BB-8 on its pod and watch “Star Wars-The Force Awakens”. BB-8 gives priceless reactions during the entire movie.
The droid app also allows you to change a few settings which are mostly related to the app itself. One more thing that you should be aware of is that the droid has no speakers installed on them. All the sounds pop out of smartphone’s speakers.
Disney and Sphero’s cumulative effort undoubtedly targets Star Wars fans across the globe. Designers at Sphero aim at providing robotic toys to kids which can be modulated and customized both in hardware and software. Hence, it makes for a great present for teenagers. Although it is expensive for a toy but if your daughter or nephew perhaps is a child prodigy, don’t get too worried when they open the toy up to examine it.
it is a really smart toy and it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to buy one for a 10-year-old or a 30-year-old. Hardcore Star Wars fans are already busy with their droids.