Sphero the smartphone controlled ball gets ready to roll out, we go hands-on (video)

The plucky little white ball that first rolled its way into our hearts back at CES is back, and now it's getting ready to continue its journey onto store shelves. Sphero is a little plasticLED-lit orb that can be controlled using a number of smartphone applications. The toy's makers like to refer to it as a "real-world Wii," letting users control it either via a phone's touchscreen or with gestures, using the handset's accelerometer. The ball itself is palm-sized -- it feels like a standard toy ball, until you give it a bit of a shake, feeling its insides jiggle.

At present, the company is showcasing three apps -- one for standard driving in real-time, one that lets the user draw paths with their fingers and a third "golf" app, that offers the most Wii-like interaction, with the user swinging their smartphone like a club to move the ball. The apps are straightforward and let you change Sphero's color. All in all, the company seems to have come a ways since first showcasing earlier prototypes back in January. You can expect to see Sphero start shipping before the end of the year, for $129 a pop. It will be compatible with both iOS and Android. We hand fun with the thing, but who knows how long it will take to get sick of it. Thankfully, it will launch with three to six apps, with more coming soon. Hands-on video after the break.%Gallery-133801%