iOS-controlled toy Sphero made Star Wars’ BB-8 possible, now make your own at home

bb8sphero

Best known for its app-controlled robotic toys, iOS developer Sphero was responsible for creating the real version of the ball-shaped droid BB-8 featured in Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, according to Time. Having released the original iOS-controlled Sphero and much-improved Sphero 2.0 balls in 2012 and 2013, the company was accepted into a Disney accelerator program in 2014, receiving personal mentoring from Disney CEO Bob Iger — a close friend of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “When the tech-savvy CEO saw Sphero’s technology in action,” Time reports, “he realized the potential application for BB-8 and connected the startup with the masterminds of the Star Wars characters.”

Along with the disclosure of Sphero’s involvement in the robot’s creation, Time noted that an BB-8 toy was planned for release. Although Gizmodo suggested that an official BB-8 toy by Sphero had appeared on retailer Fat Brain Toys’ site, the image has since been pulled, and Sphero subsequently said that it is not a “legitimate” image. Separately, designer Christian Poulsen has demonstrated how to make a homemade BB-8 droid by cutting open a Sphero ball, inserting a neodymium magnet inside, and placing another magnet inside a handmade foam head, painting the head and ball to match BB-8. Poulsen described making the toy as a quick one-day project, and has a collection of videos showing the modified Sphero moving around much as BB-8 does in the upcoming movie. Sphero 2.0 currently sells for $130. The official Sphero-designed toy will likely be released closer to the film, which is due out on December 18, 2015.

Updated April 22, 2015: In addition to noting that the BB-8 image run by Fat Brain Toys is not its actual product, Sphero has confirmed its involvement in BB-8, providing clarification and an official link to follow progress on the toy.

“What an incredible honor it is to work with the team at Disney on one of the most interesting new characters in the Star Wars franchise,” said Paul Berberian, CEO. “Opportunities this significant are rare. If anyone can execute and deliver on an exceptional BB-8 experience, it’s our Sphero team in Boulder.”

“This is the beginning of a whole new category of consumer products. You can own a piece of the movie, have it in your home, and relive an experience that is authentic to the entertainment on the screen.” said Rob Maigret, Chief Creative Officer. “Our hardware and software technology advancements make it possible to build the toys of the future now. We are deepening the user connection in ways that, until today, have only been portrayed in science fiction.”

All six Star Wars movies now available on iTunes

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 09.08.25

As announced, Disney has today released all six Star Wars movies as digital downloads on iTunes. The collection is priced at $89 as a bundle. Each movie can be downloaded separately for $20 a piece.

As part of the promotion, Apple has also launched a special collection featuring films, apps, TV shows, music and books from the franchise. Although iTunes is obviously a convenient option for users in the Apple ecosystem, it is not the cheapest way to buy the series. Other vendors, like Google Play, are offering much heavier discounts, so shop around for better deals.

Read more

Entire Star Wars saga headed to iTunes this Friday with tons of new bonus material, pre-orders now available

Disney announced today that the entire Star Wars saga will finally be available for digital HD download later this week, marking the first time ever that the films have been offered in this format.

As confirmed in the TV spot above and the iTunes tweet below, the entire collection will be available to purchase from the iTunes Store this Friday. Pre-orders are already up and running, with each movie coming in at $19.99 for both SD and HD versions.

Read more

Amusing Angry Birds Star Wars 2 video shows off first gameplay & new ‘telepods’ controller, lands Sept. 19

Rovio hinted at Angry Birds Star Wars 2 late last week, but today we get an official announcement as well as our first look at gameplay footage and the new Hasbro “Telepods” toys, which appear to let users transfer new characters into the game. The Telepod controller will be available where toys are sold, according to the video, and a broken link to Hasbro is provided.

The game goes live September 19th according to the Angry Birds siteRead more

Reader eBooks by Sony, Angry Birds Star Wars, BBC iPlayer, Facebook, Instagram rolls out Web profiles, app sales, and more

9to5Mac compiled another list of the top app news, updates, and launches in our usual roundup below. The highlights from today includes statistics on how the newly Web-geared Instagram helped capture Hurricane Sandy in real-time, a new eBook app by Sony, and a shiny teaser trailer for Rovio’s Angry Birds Star Wars (above). Oh, and a few app sales—check it out:

News

1. Angry Birds Star Wars
After releasing a string of teasers for its title landing on iOS Nov. 8, Rovio posted the first official full-length gameplay trailer today for its new Star Wars edition of Angry Birds.

Angry Birds Star Wars will be out on November 8, but until then, watch this gameplay trailer and scream “OH MY GOODNESS!!!!” to yourself in the mirror

2. Instagram | Free
Hurricane Sandy barreled through the East Coast last week, and those in its stormy path made sure to document all of the havoc in real-time with the help of Instagram. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom revealed to GigaOM today that folks uploaded over 800,000 photos tagged with the #Sandy hashtag. Systrom specifically noted Sandy was “probably the biggest event to be captured on Instagram.” The news from Systrom this morning came as the Facebook-acquired company also announced the rollout of new Web profiles with a very Facebook-esque look (via official Instagram blog):

You’ve asked for Instagram on the web and we’ve listened. Over the next few days, we’ll be rolling out Instagram profiles on the web!

Your web profile features a selection of your recently shared photographs just above your profile photo and bio, giving others a snapshot of the photos you share on Instagram. In addition, you can follow users, comment & like photos and edit your profile easily and directly from the web. It’s a beautiful new way to share your Instagram photos!

Just launched Read more

MacUpdate Bundle: Parallels 7, BusyCal, Screenflow, Civ V, lots more, 11 Mac Apps: $49.99

From 9to5Toys.com:

MacUpdate has one of the better bundles we’ve seen on a wide-ranging set of Mac software. If you are like us and getting a new MacBook next week, you can load it up with software: You are getting a solid deal with the Parallels 7 headliner ($30 off retail), but then you get some great apps up and down the lineup basically for free including:

1) Parallels Desktop 7 ($79.99)
2) BusyCal ($49.99) (first 10,000 bundles)
3) ScreenFlow 3 ($99.00)
4) Civilization V ($39.99) Gods & Kings expansion pack for just $20
5) Jaksta ($49.95)
6) Espionage 3 ($19.99)
7) Attachment Tamer 3 ($14.99)
8) Speed Download 5 ($25.00)
9) KeyCue 6 ($28)
10) A Better Finder Rename 9 ($19.95)
11) My Living Desktop 5 ($29.95)

The total value is $456.80 — MacUpdate is $49.99, as always.

Full release follows:

Read more

MacUpdate Bundle: VMware, Drive Genius, PDFPen 5, Forklift, Snapheal, Typinator 5, more: $49.99

From 9to5Toys.com:

MacUpdate has one of the best bundles we have ever seen on a wide-ranging set of Mac software. You are breaking even with the VMware Fusion 4 headliner, but there are great apps up and down the lineup including Drive Genius disk utility, PDFPen 5 PDF editor, Snapheal photo editing, Forklift FTP/Finder Utility, Typinator 5. These are all great apps.

* 1. VMware Fusion 4 ($49.99)
* 2. Drive Genius 3 ($99.00)
* 3. PDFpen 5 ($59.95)
4. ForkLift 2.5 ($29.95)
* 5. Typinator 5 ($33.00)
* 6. DesktopShelves 2 ($14.99)
* 7. Snapheal ($14.99)
8. Boom [2-Mac Home Pack] ($10.99)
* 9. Phone to Mac ($24.95)
* 10. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition ($29.99)
* 11. Worms Special Edition ($9.99)

* = has never been in a bundle before

The total value is $377.79 — 78% off = $49.99, as always.

Full release follows:

Read more