If you’re gadget geek, Star Wars enthusiast, or a mixture of both, you’re probably familiar with the remote controlled BB-8 drone that hit store shelves late last year. This year, Sphero is releasing a special edition version of BB-8 that includes a new app as well as a Force Band.
The Original BB-8
The BB-8 consists of a robotic ball, similar to the original Sphero, and a droid head that fits onto the ball using magnets. It’s about the size of a baseball and fits in the palm of a hand. That’s a simple way of explaining of what’s inside, but it basically works by propelling itself with those internal wheels.
BB-8 connects to and is controlled by an iPhone or Andriod that uses Bluetooth to send commands to the ball. It has an approximate 100 foot range and it lasts for an average of 60 minutes on one charge. That may sound short, but I doubt most play sessions are going to last longer than that.
Special Edition BB-8 with Force Band
The biggest change is the watch-like device called the Force Band. You can control BB-8 with just hand gestures and it looks like you are actually using the Force. It feels more natural than just pushing down the buttons on the smartphone like last year’s model.
Aside from the Force Band, Sphero is releasing a new app to accompany this BB-8 model. The new app is used with the new Force Band and includes some mini-games that will be updated as time goes by.
The first new mode in the app is called “Force Training”, is basically a tutorial teaching you how to control BB-8 using the Force Band. It’s like a mini-game as you have to navigate BB-8 around on a ship. It’s quite fun as it teaches you the basics.
The Force is Strong with Force Band
It sounds easy, in theory, but rare is the would-be Jedi who can master the Force Band on their first go. The companion app’s Force Training tutorial provides a few useful tips, but most found that the biggest improvements came from a few minutes of practice.
You can still use the old app to move around BB-8, but the Force Band is more entertaining in my opinion. If you already own last year’s Sphero BB-8 model, you can buy the Force Band separately to try out how cool it can be.
Best Star Wars Gift Ever
The holographic AR messaging, automatic robotic mode and the cute mannerisms of BB-8 made our first impression of this little droid an overwhelmingly good one, and now the addition of the Force Band has only made us fall more deeply in love with the little guy
Overall, the new BB-8 from Sphero is a lot of fun and is a great gift for anyone that is a huge fan of Star Wars or cool gadgets.