Orbotix, the maker of Sphero, a robot in the form of a ball that can be controlled via your iPhone or Android device, has released an updated version of the rolling gadget.
Version 2 of the device sells for the same $129, but is faster, brighter and can now jump ramps. A new, removable bumpy rubber shell allows the already waterproof ball to tackle new terrain, such as mud and ice.
But the changes in the Sphero aren’t just limited to the outside, no, perish the thought! The ball also features more and brighter LED lights on the inside, along with a custom Bluetooth chip that the company claims will improve handling of the ball by speeding up communication between the ball and your controlling device.
Don’t expect Sphero to give up all of its new features straight out of the box though, as Orbotix is encouraging you to play with the little ball that could, requiring you to earn virtual currency, obtained via play time, in order to upgrade the devices abilities.
Preorders for the new version of Sphero are going on now, and the devices will be sold in the Apple Store, Brookstone, and numerous other retail locations where the stores are pretty, and the shelving is sleek. Apple Stores will offer a version that allows owners to peek inside their Sphero, while Brookstone will offer a bundle that includes glow-in-the-dark ramps. (Decisions, decisions.)
The company hasn’t forked over any exact sales figures for Sphero 1.0, but marketing VP Kelly Zachos said the company sold every ball it could make last holiday season, and the 1.0 devices are nearly sold out.
Orbotix raised an additional $4 million in funding back in May, in order to help pay for increased production of the “little ball that could” ahead of the upcoming holiday season.
There are 24 apps available currently for the Sphero, with more on the way. Apps include augmented reality games, and those that allow budding ball programmers to write their own code to control the orb.