By: Gigaom
March 09, 2012 at 20:01 PM EST
Sphero is a startup with Bluetooth-controlled balls
Tech toys used to refer to fancy gadgets, but the phrase has now moved to describe actual toys. At SXSW I stumbled across (quite literally) Sphero, a ball that contains a gyroscope, accelerometer, Bluetooth and an array of lights controlled by a smartphone or tablet.

Tech toys used to refer to fancy gadgets like those my colleague Kevin Tofel reviews, but in the last few months the phrase has moved to describe actual toys. At South by Southwest here in Austin I stumbled across (quite literally) Sphero, a ball that contains a gyroscope, accelerometer, Bluetooth and an array of lights. The ball is controlled by an IOS or Android smartphone and is kind of fun.

However, that fun comes at a whopping $129 per ball, which I’m not going to shell out for a toy. But, for those with deeper pockets than I, it does have several apps/functions, such as Drive (you move your finder on the iPad or smartphone and the ball moves too!), Chroma (a game that uses the accelerometer in the ball and asks you to tilt it in the direction of whatever color is flashing on the screen) and my favorite, MacroLabs, which is essentially a way to program the ball and then watch it take the actions you described.

Here’s my crappy video of the Sphero on the floor of the Hilton here at SXSW:


Watch this video for free on GigaOM

I’m genuinely intrigued at the way connected toys can change how people play and interact with one another. Sphero, which is made by a Boulder, Colo.-based firm called Orbotix, seems to me to be limited right now because, while it’s pretty, it doesn’t offer me anything fundamentally new in play. The Chroma game is similar to some bad Wii game and driving it around doesn’t hold my interest for long. However, I like the idea of a ball with Sphero’s capabilities that one can write apps to — and there is a software development kit.

Building a platform so people could envision games for their Sphero and build them is super powerful and may be why Highway 12 Ventures and Foundry Group invested in the company making Sphero. MacroLabs might become that, but I’d want multiplayer functionality. With something like that, perhaps I could build the next Calvinball.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.


Related Stocks:
Stock Market XML and JSON Data API provided by FinancialContent Services, Inc.
Nasdaq quotes delayed at least 15 minutes, all others at least 20 minutes.
Markets are closed on certain holidays. Stock Market Holiday List
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.
Press Release Service provided by PRConnect.
Stock quotes supplied by Six Financial
Postage Rates Bots go here