You can now buy a smartphone controlled RD-D2 and oh my god we want five


WhistleOut
01 September 2017

Sphero's R2-D2

Connected toy manufacturer Sphero - perhaps best known for its app-enabled take on The Force Awakens' BB-8 - is back with two new Star Wars droids: R2-D2 and BB-9E.

R2-D2 is of course one of most iconic droids from the Star Wars universe, while BB-9E is  is a new character debuting in The Last Jedi, and essentially the dark side's version of BB-8.

When paired with an iPhone or Android smartphone, the drones, do, well, their droid things (waddle or roll, I guess), as directed by you. Sphero Director of Prototyping Jon Carrol says Sphero's take on R2-D2 is "the most accurate […] on the market".

In addition to acting as way-cooler-takes on remote control cars, both droids will watch Star Wars movies with you, and react to scenes appropriately. A New Hope has been added to the list of supported movies, which to date has included The Force Awakens and Rogue One. The remaining five movies from the first two trilogies will have "watch with me" support soon.

Sphero's BB-9E

Both RD-D2 and BB-9E are compatible with Sphero's suite of educational programming apps, which allow you to give the drones basic instructions based on the fundamentals of coding languages (such as loops, and if then else statements).

Carrol says that Sphero is being used as an educational tool in about 25,000 schools across Australia, and 300,000 worldwide. Most of these are however Sphero's SPRK, a simpler spherical ball rather than any of the company's licensed characters.

“I think a lot of schools are opting for the SPRK, as there’s a lot of hesitation to use commercialised characters in the classroom,” said Carrol.

Carrol did admit that kids are a lot more excited to play with BB-8 than an unbranded product though

Notably, a specialised version of Apple's Swift Playgrounds app will be made available for use with R2-D2. The regular version of Swift Playgrounds is compatible with Sphero's other robots.

Sphero's taken on R2-D2 and BB-9E are on sale from today as part of "Force Friday". They retail for $299 and $249, respectively.


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