The good folks at Orbotix, makers of the little roly-poly robot Sphero, were also in attendance at CES Unveiled last night, where they were showing off a number of new apps coming to add more functionality to the robotic ball. Sharky the Beaver was shown off a while ago, but it was on display last night as well, and it features the robot's complicated augmented reality system, where you can use the camera on your iOS device to spot Sphero, making it be displayed as something else (in this case, a cartoony beaver).
Orbotix also told us about Nyan Cat Space Party, another app for the ball that's out right now, that allows users to control the famous Pop-Tart/cat hybrid with Sphero itself. And the last app we saw was an upcoming release called Zombie Rollers, where you can use the ball as a hand-held controller to roll a little character around to crush zombies. The game looked really fun, and Orbotix told us it should be available in January for free.
We asked about sales figures for the little ball robot, but unfortunately, Orbotix didn't have any clear numbers to share, only telling us that there are "hundreds of thousands" of the balls out there in the world right now. And when we asked for other plans for the ball this year, the company's rep just explained that it's focusing on software development for the moment, both working on things like the augmented reality system for third-party developers to use in making games and apps, and working on its own mobile Sphero-enhanced software as well.
So it seems like a catch-up year for Sphero -- now that the ball itself is out and available (you can buy it online for US$130, or find it at a number of big retailers like Target and even the Apple Store), the focus seems to be on building up the library of software you can use it with. That's good news for Sphero owners, and of course the more apps that become available, the more luck Orbotix will have in convincing new customers to get on a roll themselves.