If the Force is strong with you, then maybe you’ll be able to control BB-8, the cute Star Wars droid from Sphero.
Today, Sphero is launching a fancy follow-on product to last year’s big hit, the app-enabled BB-8 droid from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. The new Star Wars Force Band wearable lets you use wrist and arm motions to control BB-8’s movements and direction.
Once you’ve calibrated BB-8, you can make it move forward by pushing your hand forward. If you hold your hand up high, BB-8 speeds up. If you hold it down, it stops. If you turn your wrist left or right, BB-8 makes a turn. And if you turn your hand and pull your wrist back toward your face, BB-8 will reverse direction and return to you. It’s a magical kind of product that could make little kids believe that you’re a Jedi.
“The Force Band came out of our R&D department, after a year and a half of work,” said Adam Wilson, cofounder of Sphero, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We wanted to know if we could make a simple controller. And hooking it up with the Force matched the branding well.”
The Force Band can also entertain you on its own. You can wave your hand and make the sound of a Blaster, Lightsaber, or an Imperial Tie Fighter. If you’re holding a toy Lightsaber, this adds some very cool sound effects to your Jedi moves.
There’s also an app that syncs with the wrist band. During the day, your wrist band will make a noise and start vibrating. If you point your hand in the direction of the strongest vibration, you’re rewarded with a digital triangle, or holocron, that is part of a larger collection of Star Wars puzzle. You’ll want to collect all puzzle pieces by leaving your wrist band on all day.
I gave BB-8 a whirl and it was a bit hard to control. It went in one direction or the other. Then I gave it to my kid, who had more patience calibrating BB-8. In no time, she was controlling BB-8 and sending it around the house on command. BB-8 kept hitting walls and losing its head. But for the most part, she had BB-8 under control.
If you press the button once, the voice of Obi Wan Kenobi asks you what you want to do. If you do a couple of presses on the button, you can enter Combat Training, where your wrist movements are accompanied by the sounds of Star Wars gadgets like Blasters and Lightsabers. You can also set it to be a Tie Fighter or the Millennium Falcon.
If you tap the button again, you go into Force Awareness mode, where you try to find the digital holocrons.
It goes on sale on September 30 at Amazon, Sphero.com, Brookstone, Best Buy, and Disney stores. The bundled BB-8 and the Force Band cost $200.
Sphero is also launching a Special Edition Battle-Worn BB-8, straight from the sands of Jakku. This Astromech Droid reflects the wear and tear of trekking across the galaxy on Resistance missions. Watch your Droid explore autonomously, guide BB-8 yourself, or create and view holographic recordings. The Force Band is also compatible with the original BB-8 app-enabled droid by Sphero and Sphero robots powered by Bluetooth Smart.
“One common thing of the pictures was you could tell it was a Sphero BB-8,” Wilson said. “But BB-8 is grungy in the movie. We wanted to give fans a movie perfect BB-8, like something that was inspired by Po’s beat-up charger and ship. So we dirtied him up and sprayed a matte finish on him.”
The Apple Store will sell an exclusive version with a black tin, rather than a silver tin, as the container for BB-8. The Force Band will also connect to other Sphero products like the Olly and Sprk.
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