We’re a mere three months out from stepping into a new chapter in the Star Wars universe. In an effort to ramp up anticipation of The Force Awakens (as if everything else hasn’t already), Disney Consumer Products and Lucasfilm have branded today “Force Friday,” a day to celebrate all things Star Wars with officially licensed products including toys, collectibles, gadgets, you name it. Retailers nationwide are selling brand new Star Wars stuff, and perhaps the most coveted of them all is the app-enabled droid BB-8 from Sphero.
Sphero, the company behind app-controlled spherical robots, was chosen by Disney and Lucasfilm to imagine and produce an interactive iteration of everyone’s favorite Astromech Droid, BB-8. Though little is known about this cute little droid who’s set to make his debut in The Force Awakens, Star Wars fans worldwide immediately embraced BB-8 following its impressive stage presence at this summer’s Star Wars Celebration. BB-8 is director J.J. Abrams’ shining example of how he’s following in George Lucas’ early footsteps using practical effects above CGI ones where possible. BB-8 looks like a giant soccer ball with an R2D2-like head magically balancing on atop its body. The droid stunned the crowd at Celebration, and now, thanks to Sphero’s handiwork, you can call BB-8 your own.
The BB-8 toy is significantly smaller than its movie character counterpart, fitting in the palm of your hand. Pair it with your phone via Bluetooth and you’re in control of its movements. A free companion app on iOS and Android allows you to guide it around, a patrol mode makes it roam around your space autonomously, and a message mode lets you create, send, and share holographic videos (the droid does not actually beam out holograms, mind you; you’ll see the augmented reality images displayed on your phone or tablet). Gyroscopic propulsion and magnets make the magic happen. Be careful, though; BB-8’s head will fly off if you slam it into a wall hard enough or accidentally drop it from an elevated surface. Battery life is listed at an hour, and it comes bundled with an inductive charging cradle. The coolest bit? Sphero says its BB-8 has an “adaptive personality that changes as you play.” Its got a range of expressions and sounds, and it’ll perk up when you give voice commands.
Simply put, this is the droid you’re looking for. See BB-8 in action after the break.
What will all this tech cost you? Sphero’s newest robotic toy is a pricey $149.99, and it’s available today. Good luck tracking one down, though. BB-8 is the new Tickle-Me-Elmo, if you know what I mean. Sphero sells it on its website, and major retailers carry it, too.
Happy Force Friday!