Sphero Launches Robot With Programmable LED Panel, IR Support

Sphero Launches Robot With Programmable LED Panel, IR Support

Sphero started out making products that were toys first and foremost, but its tiny personal robots have slowly become more education-oriented, and the new Bolt is the most bookish of them all. The Bolt is a transparent spherical robot with a raft of sensors and a programmable LED matrix display.

Sphero Launches Robot With Programmable LED Panel, IR Support
Sphero Launches Robot With Programmable LED Panel, IR Support

Sphero included several new sensors in this device. There’s a compass, which means better orientation control when programming tasks. There’s also an ambient light sensor and four internal infrared sensors. The IR capability theoretically allows multiple robots to communicate with each other. This is the first Sphero product that includes an option for multiple robots to interact. The company says as many as five robots can link up to work together within a radius of five meters, but it’s vague on the supported functionality. The demo video shows the robots recognizing each other with LED animations and rolling along as a single unit.

There are two apps for controlling and managing your robot over Bluetooth. The Sphero Play app is just a controller for moving the robot around and interacting with the built-in games. It has both joystick and accelerometer controls. The Sphero Edu app lets you create your own programs for the robot. It includes three different “levels” or programming starting with simple drawing mode, progressing to blocks (like MIT App Inventor), and ending with full text-based programming with JavaScript. This is also where you can go to view and export full sensor data from the robot. Sphero also has learning tools for teachers to assign programming experiments (with Google Classroom support) on the Bolt as well. Sphero clearly hopes schools will buy a few dozen of these for students.

The Bolt is on sale right now on the Sphero website for $150. It will come to select retailers later this month.

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