Last September, Sphero released a robotic BB-8 that could be controlled through an app. Then at CES, the connected play company showed us a new way to control the droid: a Force Band. All we needed to do to make BB-8 glide around was slap the band on and move our arm. Over the eight months since then, Sphero has finalized its Force Band, and today it announced that it plans to release it on September 30th. The company will also introduce a new “battle-worn” BB-8 that’s more accurate to the droid’s appearance inThe Force Awakens. (It’s a lot dirtier-looking.) Both items will be available on Sphero’s website, as well as at other stores, like Apple, Target, and Disney.
Sphero now has two BB-8-related iOS / Android apps. One for the original BB-8 and a new one for the Force Band. The original BB-8 will work with the Force Band, and the new battle-worn BB-8 will work with the old BB-8 app.
Maybe Sphero feared that driving BB-8 around wasn’t enough of a hook to get people to buy the Force Band, so the company created a separate game in its Force Band app that essentially involves sending you around on a treasure hunt where vibrations on your Force Band mean you’ve found “a disturbance in The Force” in the form of a holocron. You then have to collect that holocron through a game of hot and cold where your band will vibrate more vigorously as you get closer to this invisible holocron.
The holocron unlocks motion-activated sounds you can access when playing with your non-connected Star Wars gear, like a life-sized lightsaber. Confused? Yeah, it’s confusing.
Just as Sphero updated its original BB-8 to be able to watch The Force Awakens with you, the company plans to continue updating the app and the droid, which I think is the coolest part of this release. BB-8 is “extendable forever,” as Adam Wilson, the co-founder of Sphero, explained to me. The droid will be updated with every movie. Scenes can be recreated. Easter eggs can be hidden, and BB-8 will never age. Or at least until the Star Wars universe replaces it with something else. Ultimately, the film franchise will probably outlive all of us and software updates will keep our toys running forever.
Battle-worn BB-8 and the Force Band cost $199 as a bundle. The band alone will cost $79.99.