Gamevice, a company that makes a Made for iPhone gaming controller for iOS devices, today announced that it has partnered with Sphero and DJI to allow the Gamevice peripheral to control the Sphero SPRK+ robot and the DJI Spark drone.
When the Gamevice for iPhone or iPad is used with the DJI Spark app, the Spark drone can be controlled using the physical buttons of the Gamevice, which the company says offers improved precision, control, and ergonomics.
DJI does offer its own Spark remote controller, but it is not included in the purchase price and costs an additional $119. At $100, the Gamevice controller is more affordable and it also works with a wide range of iOS games.
"We designed Spark to be the easiest DJI drone to fly, whether using simple hand gestures, a smartphone or the dedicated remote control," said Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI. "Gamevice gives Spark pilots another simple, highly intuitive way to control their drone, letting them fly, capture and share life's moments while on the go."
As for the SPRK+, it's normally controlled via an on-screen joystick using the Sphero app with no physical control option, so the Gamevice is a great addition for those who would rather have access to controller-style input methods.
Gamevice offers several different controller options for a wide range of iOS devices on its website. Prices for iOS devices start at $99.95.
Robotics company Sphero skyrocketed to popularity in 2015 with the release of BB-8, a miniature iPhone-controlled toy droid modeled after the BB-8 character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
As the release of the The Last Jedi approaches this December, Sphero has introduced two new Star Wars-themed robotic toys, BB-9E and R2-D2.
R2-D2 is a well-known classic droid that's starred in Star Wars movies since the original trilogy in the 1970s, while BB-9E, an Astromech droid that serves in the First Order (aka evil BB-8), is a newcomer that will appear in The Last Jedi.
Like BB-8, both of Sphero's new droids are exquisitely accurate in design compared to the movie versions, and they come to life when paired with the Sphero app.
BB-9E shares a design with BB-8, and BB-8 was based on Sphero's original robotic ball technology. BB-9E's body is a plastic sphere that houses a motor, a gyroscope that keeps BB-9E upright, counterweights for balance, internal wheels, magnets, and other electronic components.
BB-9E's head attaches to the ball-shaped body using magnets, and a set of wheels underneath the head to allow it to move in around in stay in place on the body while BB-9E is in motion. Instead of a round head like BB-8, BB-9E has a flatter head that fits in better with the First Order aesthetic.
Size wise, BB-9E fits in the palm of a hand, and if you own BB-8, BB-9E is the same size. In contrast to BB-8's white and orange design, BB-9E is black with gray accents and red and blue lights (on the head) when in operation. BB-9E is made from a durable plastic that holds up to rough use -- even when the droid is slammed into walls or other obstacles, it comes away unscathed.
Continue reading Review: If You’re a Star Wars Superfan, You Need Sphero’s BB-9E and R2-D2
Following the launch of BB-8 in 2015, and R2-D2 and BB-9E last month, Sphero has introduced an all-new iPhone-controlled droid ahead of New York Comic-Con, which begins today. This one is R2-Q5 and is the Imperial counterpart to R2-D2, with a glossy black finish and matte gold trimmings. R2-Q5 first appeared in Return of the Jedi.
Similar to Sphero's R2-D2 droid, R2-Q5 has functional lights, a rotating dome, retractable third foot, on-board speakers, and can be piloted manually via the same Sphero app that controls the other Star Wars droids, or patrol on its own. The app has augmented reality features that place R2-Q5 in settings within the Star Wars universe, including the Death Star. You can watch Star Wars movies with the droid and have it react to certain moments within the film as well.
R2-Q5™ is an Imperial astromech droid from a galaxy far, far away.... Control it with your smart device or keep this nefarious Droid in top shape with augmented reality training. R2-Q5’s signature front and rear LED lights are fully functional, and an integrated speaker means all sounds come right from the droid itself. Watch R2-Q5 interact with other Star Wars™ App-enabled Droids by Sphero, and view films from the Star Wars saga with R2-Q5 reacting by your side. This special droid has been brought to life thanks to Sphero technology.
Sphero is planning R2-Q5 as a much more exclusive model than its previous droids, with only 100 on sale at the company's New York Comic-Con booth today. After that, the droid will debut on Best Buy's site and in stores on November 5 for $199.99. Pre-orders are available now, and the "limited edition" droid is expected to see limited availability throughout the holidays, so once they disappear from Best Buy they'll be gone for good.
Sphero, known for its line of robotic balls and droids, today launched the $50 Sphero Mini, the company's most affordable toy yet.
Sphero Mini measures in at about 1.25 inches, making it similar in size to a ping pong ball. It's essentially a tiny version of the original Sphero robotic ball, and it's controlled the same way -- through an app on your iPhone.
The Sphero Mini connects to an iPhone using Bluetooth and can be used for playing games, learning to code, playing with pets, and more, thanks to a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, and LED light.
Sphero has designed a series of games that use the Mini as a controller mechanism, and with a future update, it will be programmable using the Sphero Edu app. Unique to the Mini is a Face Drive app feature that lets it be controlled via head movements and facial expressions.
Sphero Mini can glow in millions of colors with the LED lights, and it has a range of 10 meters. The battery in the Sphero Mini lasts for 45 minutes before needing to be recharged, and charging takes an hour. There are also interchangeable shells in a range of colors that can be purchased for the Mini, as well as a pins and cones accessory pack.
Sphero today unveiled all-new iPhone-controlled Star Wars toys, including R2-D2 and a new character from Star Wars: The Last Jedi called BB-9E (via TechCrunch). This latter droid is described as originating from the same astromech series as BB-8, but is instead associated with the villainous First Order.
Similar to Sphero's BB-8 droid from 2015, BB-9E (priced at $149) comes with a set of pre-programmed moves and voice lines, but users can also manually control the droid from their iOS device. BB-9E's head is equipped with LED lights and is magnetically attached to the droid's body, so it can roll around similar to the character within the upcoming movie.
The company said that BB-9E will interact with its other Star Wars iPhone-controlled droids, as well as react to Star Wars films when users watch with the droid nearby. Sphero said that BB-9E will receive consistent updates, including new voice lines, particularly as the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi draws closer.
Additionally, Sphero revealed an iPhone-controlled R2-D2 droid (priced at $179), which includes all of the same features as the other Star Wars products from Sphero. R2-D2 can patrol on its own and includes fully-functioning LED lights and an integrated speaker that produces the droid's recognizable sounds.
Both BB-9E and R2-D2 use the same app that Sphero launched with BB-8 two years ago, so users can simply keep adding new droids to play around with, without needing to download a separate app for each. Both of the new droids will support a few augmented reality experiences in the connected app, where fans can view iconic Star Wars settings and characters through their iOS device, with the Sphero characters interacting in the same space.
AR games will also be available to play, and BB-9E is shipping with an "augmented reality platform," which users can place to keep the droid still in order to play AR games around it. BB-8 Sphero droids will be shipped with the same platforms starting today as well.
Force Friday II begins tomorrow, September 1, and previous reports have stated that Apple Stores will be getting a few Star Wars-themed items to participate in the toy release celebrations. Since BB-8 originally went on sale in Apple Stores for Force Friday back in 2015, it's expected for the same thing to happen this year for BB-9E and R2-D2, but many details regarding the shopping event are still under wraps with information about specific toy releases just beginning to emerge today.
Continuing its partnership with Disney, Sphero today revealed its newest iPhone-controlled toy, this time themed after the Disney/Pixar Cars character Lightning McQueen. Sphero calls him the "Ultimate Lightning McQueen," letting users drive Lightning remotely via Bluetooth by using an iOS or Android application.
Lightning himself has authentic movement and animations which Sphero calls "emotive suspension," which allows Lightning to perform movie-accurate animations beyond simply driving around. According to TechCrunch, which spoke to Sphero about the launch, "his left and right sides also twitch up and down with excitement, and he’ll speak and move in response to taps on his roof, hood and doors."
There's a full LCD display on Lightning's windshield that animates the character's eyes, and an animatronic mouth that moves as he talks. During playtime, users can drive Lightning away from them up to 100 feet, and one charge will last around 40 minutes.
Sphero worked closley with Pixar creative director Jay Ward and supervising animator Bobby Podesta, to ensure Lightning's personality and look was as close as possible to his representation in the movies.
“As our partnership with Disney has evolved, we’ve been able to start to look at further properties within the Disney portfolio,” explained Product Manager Jenica Watts. “One of the teams had the opportunity to build an amazing, lifelike Lightning McQueen.”
This was all supervised by Pixar’s Jay Ward, who’s creative director for the Cars franchise, with advice from Bobby Podesta, supervising animator on Cars 3. The end result is that Ultimate Lightning McQueen has a real sense of personality — enough so that after we’d been charging him for a few minutes in the corner of the TechCrunch New York office, we had to put him to sleep because of his constant demands for attention.
In the iOS app, users will be able to drive Lightning around at speeds of up to 6 mph, with controls enabling reverse and drifting options. The app will allow users to directly interact with Lightning as well, with Sphero saying that there are "more than 150 animations for Lightning to perform."
Users will be able to string together various animations and voice lines into scripts with an "acting studio," creating their own miniature Cars storylines. He'll even offer his own commentary when a Cars movie is playing, thanks to an included microphone that will pick up the film's audio. The launch of Ultimate Lightning McQueen coincides with the upcoming release of Cars 3 in June.
Those interested can purchase their own Ultimate Lightning McQueen from Sphero's website today for $299.99.