Last week at //BUILD/ we had the chance to see something pretty cool. It was an early look at the work Orbotix was doing with Windows 8 and their robotic gaming system Sphero. The team is working on making an official SDK for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Not sure what Sphero is? In short, it’s awesome. Details after the break.
Sphero (www.gosphero.com) is a little robotic ball made by Orbotix. You can control the ball with a companion smartphone app, but it goes beyond just making a little ball roll from here to there. On competing platforms, iOS and Android, Orbotix already has an SDK out that allows game developers and hobbyists to create unique games for Sphero. At //BUILD/, the team was out demoing their little app-controlled robot with some Surface devices. We learned about their plans to release a Windows 8 SDK and one for Windows Phone. When can you expect the SDK for Windows Phone? Sometime in October when something else happens with Windows Phone. Check out Sphero in the videos.
Right now there are a few apps in the Windows Phone Store that allow you to control a Sphero. You can find those by just searching for Sphero in the Store. The upcoming SDK will allow developers to easily and quickly create compelling experiences with Sphero and Windows Phone.
Sphero looks like a good cool gaming platform. The limits are really up to the imagination of people making games with the upcoming SDK. You can use augmented reality to make fun games. Tag was an example of a game that’s currently out for Sphero. If you have a handful of them you can play a pretty fun version of tag. One person is ‘It’ and tries to chase other Spheros. When you hit another Sphero they can change colors, freeze, or anything you want depending on the version of tag you’re playing.
What’s the device like itself? For $130 you can get a Sphero. The device can change colors to nearly anything you want with a companion app. The device itself can travel about 3 feet per second at full throttle and the Bluetooth connection allows for a range of 50 feet. You can over an hour of use with Sphero at full throttle. It comes with a cradle to charge through induction. It’s waterproof and super-sturdy with a high-impact polycarbonate shell (the stuff your Lumia 920 is made of). It’s sturdy enough for you to stand on even though that’s probably not the best idea.
When the Sphero SDK hits for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 will I get one? Probably. It the short amount of time I played with it I had a good time. It’ll be even more fun once developers get to create fun games with the SDK.