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Sphero’s New Bolt Is a Robotic Ball With a Programmable LED Matrix

Sphero is best known for that remote control BB-8, but it made its start with programmable remote control robots. Now it’s getting back to its roots with the Bolt, which includes an LED matrix.

The newest model of Sphero robot works a lot like its existing ones. You can connect to it via Bluetooth, and control directly with your phone or use the supported SDK to write programs to control it. This new model features several new additions to the hardware, though. It comes with a compass that should make it easier to orient the ball in a given direction, 360-degree infrared communication so multiple Bolts can work in tandem, and an ambient light sensor so it can detect when light is shining on it and react. Oh, and it’s waterproof.

The most notable bit, however, is the 8×8 RGB LED matrix. This display can output basic information or display animations according to your program. This gives you and your programs a lot more options for creating fun and interesting demos. For example, the company suggests you could design one Sphero to display Pac-man, while a couple other Spheros follow as the ghosts.

The new Sphero Bolt costs $150 and goes on sale in stores and online today. Schools can also order this mega pack of 15 Bolts for $1,950—or about $130 per device—if you want to use this in an educational environment. Given all the sensors and tools this thing backs, we could see it doing well in a school robotics class.

Source: Sphero Bolt via Engadget

Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Read Full Bio »