November 3, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Sphero – the rolling, racing, turning, twirling robotic ball that is powered by Android and features games – is available for pre-order. First seen at tech shows throughout the year, Sphero recently started accepting pre-orders in the United States. Demand for the ball has proven too high to guarantee getting a Sphero in 2011, but you may want to order one now for early next year.
“Part robot, part ball,” Sphero is nifty little ball that can be remote-controlled with an Android device. Using on-screen controls and the accelerometer, the device can move towards any of 360-degree angles. It’s basically an Orbotix Smart Robot with a polycarbonate shell wrapped around the ball so it can withstand crashing into walls, falling off surfaces, or going into water. Controls are established through Bluetooth, it charges in two hours, and Sphero has battery life of one hour if you continuously keep the device running at its full speed of 2 miles per hour (pace yourself to get longer life.)
Sphero is a $129.99 toy that’s fun to play based on the in-person demo’s I’ve had of the product. The ball will be more appealing thanks to corresponding games that people will be able to download from the Android Market. For instance, Sphero Golf responds to the phone being held as a virtual putter, then moves into a hole if the right amount of force and accuracy is placed on the swing. Users can also plot an automated pattern for Sphero to drive with Sphero Blox, trace a path with Draw n’ Drive, or interact with other users on social networks and leaderboards with the official Sphero app.
Check out this demo video and head to GoSphero.com to place an order for $129.99. The ball sadly won’t make it to you this holiday season, so users will have to put in their bids for a “likely 2012″ order. International users can also sign-up to be notified.