The Sphero Bolt is a new robotic ball with programmable lights

Sphero Bolt is a robotic ball with programmable LED lights

Sphero launches Bolt, its new robotic ball with programmable LED lights

Products like the Sphero Mini and the new Bolt were conceived in this space. That job is done by the upgraded Sphero Edu app. Now you have a screen, and now you can see other robots. Today, Sphero announced the BOLT, a round robot that immediately brings to mind images of the SPRK and the original Sphero for those who remember the company's roots. A Bluetooth Dapper chip pairs it to smartphones and tablets as a lot as a hundred toes away, which act as its controllers.

The Sphero Gallop costs $149 ($20 greater than Sprk+) and comes with an inductive charging cradle, stickers, and a protractor with labeled cardinal instructions.

Beyond just driving the Sphero around, you also get three games to play, which will be mostly familiar from previous Sphero devices. It also contains a small selection of onscreen games, which are controlled by rotating and tipping the Sphero physically in your hands. It was too much time to make it all work just right, because we're perfectionists. However, the Play app doesn't allow you to take full advantage of Bolt's new features.

Think of it like a Raspberry Pi with attached motors and sensors enclosed in a spherical, mobile chassis and you're pretty close to understanding what Bolt can do.

My favourite is a simple program, used to transform Sphero into the subject of a physical game of Pong, where you bat Bolt back and forth between two players but there are loads of other clever examples to work your way through as well.

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The Sphero Bolt is built in with an 8 x 8 LED screen, which displays data and words in real-time. Sphero BOLT is also available in two classroom packs; a charging case called the "BOLT Power Pack" for $2499.99, and the "BOLT 15 Pack" for $1949.99, both of which include 15 robots and accessories created to make it easy to bring Sphero BOLT into any school or maker environment.

Likewise, the Sphero Bolt is girded with a magnetometer, which makes it quicker for the users to control the device manually.

Sphero's products offer something unique so there isn't an very bad lot of direct competition beyond its own stable of products. That means that as a coding tool, the Bolt is really best suited to kids (and adults) who've already mastered the basics elsewhere and want to use the Sphero to explore more complex options.

The Edu app lets you use basically every feature of the Bolt, including the matrix, light sensor, and IR sensor, triggering spinning, movement, the LEDs, noises, and more, down to minute detail. Sphero is shifting from cute toys that weren't selling well to education, where its machines are proving useful.

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