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.”

CES 2014: Hands-on w/ Parrot’s Jumping Sumo insect robot toy (Video)

Yesterday we gave you our hands-on demo video of the latest MiniDrone quadricopter from Parrot, and today we got a demo of the new Parrot Jumping Sumo: a Wi-Fi connected “insect robot” toy that can turn on a dime and jump up to 30 inches.It’s controlled via an iOS app, packs in a gyroscope and accelerometer, and can roll and turn 90 degrees with quite impressive precision. Read more

Steve Jobs figurine legal in most states, begins to hit eBay

We reported yesterday that Apple was requesting Chinese manufacturer In Icon to cease production of what is probably the most realistic Steve Jobs figurine to date. While we already knew CEO Tandy Cheung’s stance on Apple having the copyright to Steve’s likeness, a new report from Paid Content claimed the doll is in fact legal in most states and “Apple’s legal claim is largely bogus.”

The report explained that people do own the rights to their likeness, but most American states do not recognize these rights after death. In fact, according to Paid Content, only a dozen states currently recognize “personality rights” after death.

What this means is that Apple’s warning about the doll is an empty threat in most places. It may not even be able to stop others from using the name Steve Jobs as, surprisingly, the term does not appear on the company’s long list of registered trademarks.

In light of that news, several of the figurines appear to have made their way to different eBay stores globally. One —on the United States eBay store— is listed with a ‘Buy It Now’ price of US $138.88 and ships straight from Hong Kong. The figurines have also landed on the Australian eBay here. You can still preorder from In Icons’ official website for $109.99 with shipping expected to start in February. However, the website noted it is a ‘first-come, first-served’ policy with refunds being issued when initial limited stock runs out.

Paid Content cited the following list of states where the doll could potentially run into an issue, according to a recent paper on Dignitarian Posthumous Personality Rights:

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