It’s hard to reinvent something as simple as the ball, but leave it to Sphero to do just that. A few years ago, the robotics toy company created a ball that can be controlled from your smartphone via Bluetooth, and letting you interact with it in unique ways through downloadable apps. Now, the company (formerly known as Orbotix) has evolved that technology into its latest “app-controlled” toy, called Ollie, a tubular shaped remote controlled plaything with wheels that can reach up to 14 miles per hour.
First demonstrated earlier this year at the CES Show in Las Vegas, Ollie (formerly Sphero 2B) is “engineered for high performance and tricks,” Sphero says. Besides racing at high speed (for a toy, at least, which is more than most humans can run), you can make Ollie perform spins, drifts, jumps, and flips. In certain apps, you can get feedback and points based on how gnarly your Ollie’s tricks are. Sphero’s co-founcer, Ian Bernstein, says Ollie takes a nod from skateboarding culture, and would appeal to adrenaline junkies.
Ollie will be customizable. You can change the tires to give Ollie different driving experiences. A Bluetooth-enabled ramp that interacts with Ollie is in the works. The toy is made with durable plastic that can handle knocks, and pairs instantly with your smartphone using Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) technology. Ollie recharges via USB.
Due out on September 15, Ollie will be available on Sphero’s website for $99, and later in stores. It will come in black and white, and will have four apps available at launch.