And the market will surely respond – expect to see countless toy versions of that adorable rolling droid everywhere you look in the coming months. All they had to do was figure out how to attach the head. If a malicious sibling pulls BB-8’s head off (or if it comes off accidentally after you slam BB-8 into a wall), fear not. A detail rich paint job and enough sounds and quirks are able to convince you, with a touch of the suspension of disbelief, that he is more than just an expensive hunk of plastic.
Sphero’s chief creative officer Rob Maigret tells the BBC’s Chris Foxx why the product might herald a wave of other hi-tech toys in the video above. A 200% increase in Star Wars global licensing and retail store sales could lead to $500M of incremental revenues and $200M of incremental operating profit in FY16, estimated Quadrani, who has an Overweight rating on Disney. Like the Sphero, BB-8 is steerable via a smartphone app (available for Android and iOS) and uses gyroscopes and motors to propel itself forward, backward and side-to-side at up to 5 miles per hour. From there you can use on-screen controls to drive the roller around, or input a selection of pre-programmed movements.
“All of a sudden you just get this big smile on your face and you make the connection – oh my gosh this is going to be huge and we’re holding the technology to actually bring this thing to life!” said Berberian.
BB-8 sits sleeping in his inductive charging dock, which is powered by microUSB. It had me laughing like a moisture farmer as it skirted around the desk of my demo area, chirping like a little robot parakeet. Whether you’ll understand what he’s saying without a protocol droid standing by remains to be seen. But it will provide buyers with tidbits from the film ahead of its release in December, and then reveal more features and personality after the film’s release.
“BB-8 is a little computer in and of himself”. Or we’re a few years away from a robot uprising. If you want to stretch your brain a little more, you can create mazes, musical puzzles and even rudimentary role-playing adventures.