Here's What's Next For Sphero, The Robotic Ball You Control With Your Smartphone

chuck lepley orbotix spheroOrbotix marketing manager Chuck Lepley

Photo: Dylan Love

If you’re unfamiliar, Sphero is the small robotic ball by Orbotix that you can control with your Android phone or iPhone.It might sound like a basic idea, but Orbotix is thinking big for the future. Their new apps will use Sphero as a controller and they’ll also take advantage of augmented reality to make Sphero games more fun.

Chuck Lepley, marketing manager at Orbotix, demoed two games for us that implement Sphero as the controller.

Click here for a cool demo of Sphero >
The first, Chromo, is a Simon Says-style game where you hold Sphero and twist your hand to activate whichever colour your phone displays.

The second, with a working title of “Space Fighter,” lets you steer a spaceship by manoeuvring Sphero in your hand and fire missiles at enemies by tapping your phone’s screen.

The augmented reality games make use of overlaying virtual graphics on the real world. Lepley mentioned a game that would let users fire Sphero out of a virtual slingshot that moves it through the real world to destroy virtual targets. He also demoed a real-world Pong-style game, and while it’s only a sketch of a finished product to come, we loved it.

Orbotix calls this type of gaming “mixed reality” — control in the virtual world resulting in play in the real world. And they want independent developers to take it even further. The Sphero SDK is out for the programming-minded to bring their ideas to life.

Check out this video to see Sphero in action:

Want one? Sphero is available online right now for $129. It will land in retail stores Q3 this year, and Orbotix may begin direct international shipping as early as Q2.

They were kind enough to leave us with a demo unit, and we’ve been putting it through its paces all morning.

You control Sphero with an app on your Android or iPhone.

Sphero Drive is a simple app that lets you move the ball across the top of a ping pong table...

...or around the Business Insider newsroom.

The Draw & Drive app lets you trace a path on your phone with your finger...

...and lets Sphero follow the path in the real world.

If you're as empty-headed as our editor Steve Kovach, Sphero will end up under a couch.

You can change the colour of Sphero inside the app (which makes retrieving it from under a couch much easier).

The SpheroGolf app lets you take a virtual swing at the ball to play through whatever type of golf course you can whip up in the real world.

Since the ball is totally sealed, it comes with an inductive charger that can fully charge an empty battery in 3 hours.

Happy rolling!

Want to see a video of Sphero in action?

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