Sphero launches Bolt, a programmable robot for children

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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.

The Sphero Edu app, meanwhile, uses Scratch blocks (which was a big part of the SPRK program) and JavaScript to program the robot, to create custom games and routines. The Bolt also works with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds program, hooking it into Apple’s educational ecosystem. You’re welcome to ‘just have fun’, through the Sphero Arcade app, too.

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.

Source: CNET

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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