The most influential time for a human to start learning how to program is arguably in the developmental years — try teaching a four-year-old a new language. Now try teaching your grandmother how to use an iPhone. Who won? Now try it again, this time using Sphero’s programmable Bolt robo-ball.
We all know Sphero as the folks who allowed some of the most-loved Star Wars droids to come to life (BB8 and, more recently, R2D2) but they’re a little more than that. Two years ago, Sphero decided to launch SPRK, an educational program for kids to build up their coding skills, as a complement to their little robots, and they also released a little programmable ball called the SPRK+ to go with it.
Now Sphero is introducing the second generation of its education-focused ball, dubbed Bolt. It features a programmable 8 x 8 LED matrix display inside that can be set to display words and show off data in real-time — like battery levels and other useful data. It also has an ambient light sensor for programming based on room brightness, a two-hour battery and an infrared module that allows two Bolts to communicate with one another. Just in case you want to program a couple of them to interact.
We have no idea whether these will be available in South Africa soon, but they will retail for $130 (R2,000 approx) on Sphero’s website. If you already own a Sphero product, it is possible to program and personalise many previous iterations including R2D2 and BB8 through the Sphero Edu app.