This week, Avram Piltch shows off a preview of the newest addition to the Sphero lineup: the Sphero Mini Activity Kit. This kit builds on top of the existing Sphero Mini robotic ball, adding to it a variety of pre-planned activities that can be done with the ball. These activities give new owners ideas of things that can be done with their ball. This has long been a leading problem with robotic toys like this. Without ideas on how to use it, educational toys tend to be abandoned in fairly short order.
One of the activities that come in the kit is building a maze. To accomplish this, the kit also comes with the parts and pieces to build such a maze. Another activity is bowling and, once again, the kit has bowling pins to help encourage the activity. After working through some of the included activities, kids' minds can be sparked to look for new things to do or new ways to accomplish the same goals.
As with other Sphero products, the Sphero Mini can be controlled in several different ways. You can use it in play mode, where you run it like a remote-controlled car. It can also be controlled using the accelerometer in your phone or tablet, to move in the direction of the device. It can even move based on your facial expressions, with a smile moving it forward and a frown moving it backward. There is also a programming interface, which allows you to move the device around programmatically. This is where the fun of a Sphero really comes in. You can use the included block-based programming system to build logic, but you can also use full programming languages, like C#. With all of these options, you can come up with any number of ways to bowl or complete a maze.
The Sphero Mini is available now, but the Sphero Mini Activity Kit comes out in early October.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.