Sphero Rolls Out Bolt Robot Ball With Programmable LEDs For Education

Sphero Bolt
We have seen some truly amazing things in the field of robotics, like a dog that can walk itself and a stickman robot that can perform acrobatics. Those are nifty, though not exactly practical for home consumers. What is practical, however, is a new app-enabled robotic ball by Sphero that is designed to help teach programming.

It's called the Sphere Bolt, and it's a modern take on the original Sphero, back when the company was called Orbotix. The aim is to "foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science." Or put another way, the Sphero Bolt is supposed to make programming fun for kids and adults alike.

"Sphero BOLT is an app-enabled robotic ball that provides endless opportunities to be creative and have fun while learning. Program with the Sphero Edu app from nearly any mobile or desktop device, discover awesome community-created activities, or just drive and play," Sphero explains.

The company behind the Sphero Bolt is the same one that built toys around the BB-8 and R2-D2 from Star Wars, and Lighting McQueen from Cars. Sphero Bolt is more advanced than any of those, and is essentially an update to the SPRK+.

At is core, the Sphero Bolt consists of a programmable 8 x 8 LED matrix display sitting atop a control board. It can show words, images, and even animation in different colors. Paired over Bluetooth, it can be programmed to play games or provide real time data, such as battery life.

Of course, it rolls as well, similar to those pods that allow people to wade through dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It has a built-in compass, four IR sensors, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope, all wrapped in a durable, waterproof shell. It can be programmed with the Sphere Edu app from nearly any mobile or desktop device.

"Use advanced sensors to keep tabs on Bolt’s speed, acceleration, and direction, or orient and drive Bolt with the built-in compass. Bolt also features infrared communication, allowing your robot to “communicate” with other Bolts, enabling brand new games and advanced coding tactics," Sphero adds.

There Sphero Bolt is not cheap, though—it's available now from Sphero's online store for $149.99.