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Sphero Intros BOLT Robot for STEAM Education

13 September, 2018, 17:46 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • You might know Sphero because of its BB-8 droid toy but its new Bolt robot ball will be a hit with STEM students

Sphero took another step in their commitment to producing high-quality education products after it released the "Sphero Bolt" on Monday. The startup has now announced a new product to cater to the educational markets.

As a cool toy with an educational bent there's nothing that quite matches a Sphero and the Bolt is the best of this unique range of robotic educational assistants.

Sphero is the company that collaborated with Disney to bring personality-filled toys such as R2D2, BB-8, Ultimate Lightning McQueen, Spider-Man, and others. It was too much time to make it all work just right, because we're perfectionists. Adam Wilson, the co-founder and chief scientist at Sphero, said in an interview, "There's always been a programming aspect to our products".

Assorted hardware additions embody an ambient mild sensor that can read the brightness of a room, and a magnetometer, which acts as a compass. It connects to smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth, turning them into controllers from up to 100 feet away. While they may be more instantly recognisable in terms of children's characters, neither offer the flexibility or depth of the Sphero Bolt.

That's part of why Sphero is also offering a Power Pack aimed at teachers and schools. The Sphero Bolt is based on feedback from educators. The Bolt launches alongside a beginner-friendly coding app, which lets you program the Bolt to react according to information it's receiving from its sensors. The Bolt offers double the battery life of the Sprk+.

It can be charged via an inductive cradle due to its outer shell that is sealed against water and dust.


The Sphero Bolt is an nearly flawless transparent sphere, crammed full of numerous sensors you'd find in your mobile phone. The display also shows you the battery life and messages, as well as play games.

Then there's the new infrared sensor, which the Bolt uses to communicate with other Bolts. Examples so far range from simple instructions for the Bolt to draw a square through to ones that turn it into a magic 8-ball and even one that re-builds the classic phone game Snake using the 8x8 matrix.

"[These sensors] can support you are making a real program with inputs and outputs ..." That job is done by the upgraded Sphero Edu app.

One thing worth noting is that the Edu app doesn't really do a lot to intro young users to the concepts of block-based programming, and unlike some rivals there's not a clear, structured series of lessons to work through. Previously, users had to switch between them frequently.

The most influential time for a human to start learning how to program is arguably in the developmental years - try teaching a four-year-old a new language.

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