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Orbotix Sphero iOS-controlled toy ball hands-on

Jacob Schulman

It's not even close to an AR.Drone, but the Orbotix Sphero should find a way to eat up your precious productivity when it hits shelves sometime "later this year." This 4.3-inch LED-lit sphere connects to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch via Bluetooth, and allows you to remotely control it or change its color... and that's about it. There are two different input modes -- one that uses the built in accelerometers and another joystick mode that utilizes a large virtual circular joystick on-screen. The few minutes we spent with the sphere were mildly entertaining, but the lack of cameras or other sensors makes it kind of pointless. Still, we could see young kids going wild for this and refusing to give you back your iPhone to take a call. Orbotix detailed a game dubbed "QuizTug" in which multiple players connect to the same Sphero and try to "score" while the other player completes a math problem or some other type of question -- an interesting idea for sure. Operation definitely took a little bit of getting used to, and we still didn't have it quite down pat after about five or ten minutes but we're sure with some practice we'd be shredding the half pipe like our demo dude was. The existence of an open API makes us optimistic for the future of this little guy, especially given the sub-$100 pricetag. Check it out in our hands-on gallery or in the video posted after the break, and let us know what you'd do with this thing in the comments.

Gallery: Orbotix Sphero hands-on | 16 Photos

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