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Every once in a while, a piece of tech meshes with my most nerdy obsessions, and my wallet cries — prematurely. This is one of those moments.
After obsessing over the Sphere BB-8 to the point where I was practically The Worst Kid On Christmas about when I’d get it, I’ve had non-stop fun with my little droid, and it has quickly become a part of the family. From delighting my cat and little kids at the office to racing it against other BB-8 owners (VERY fun, by the way), I’ve gotten everything I paid for and more.
Now, first debuted at CES, Sphero has unveiled its latest addition to my budget: The Force Band.
One of the biggest selling points of Sphero’s BB-8, for me, was how intuitive and reactive it was. While it’s a galaxy far, far away from the AI capabilities of it’s on-screen inspiration, BB-8 still serves up hours of fun. But now, with the Force Band, Sphero has gotten just a step closer.
With hand gestures, users will be able to control BB-8 in a more natural manner, making the droid react in ways that seem authentic outwardly and bring it to life that much more. While I haven’t gotten my grubby paws on it yet, the folks over at The Verge have, and their rundown of its capabilities had me bouncing in my chair from excitement:
Here’s how the Force Band works, at least in its current state. Resting your hand to your side enters driving mode. With your palm down, Sphero looks away from you; with your palm up it looks toward you. Spin in place, and BB-8 spins with you. The direction also dictates where it drives, and the rolling speed is at least somewhat affected by your hand’s elevation. Waving your hand in place will enter a gesture mode — the only one that worked for me was a nod “yes” when we did a quick right jab — and then putting your hand back down re-engages driving mode.
The Force Band has no price or official release date, though right now, it looks like you should budget for Fall 2016 — which means we’re probably looking at another Force Friday release! Until then, make sure you keep BB-8 up to date, and may the Force be with you!