Kids can literally have a ball playing with Sphero's rolling robots, but they can also learn about programming. For those who find the $125 Sphero Bolt a little too pricey or too large, the company has a pair of new robot kits that should fit most budgets in the $49.99 Mini Soccer kit and the $79.99 Mini Activity Kit. Due out later this fall, both products offer children the opportunity to develop valuable STEM skills as they play.
Due out October 2nd for $79.99, the Sphero Mini Activity kit combines the company's existing Sphero Mini robot with a set of accessories that allow you to make the most of it. These include the tunnels, mazes and cones you can use to create obstacle courses you can drive your ball through. There are also 15 activity cards that give you projects to complete.
The Sphero Mini itself features a gyroscope, accelerometer and a set of colorful LED lights that shine through its transparent shell. Kids can drive it directly from the Sphero Play app or use the software's block-based coding language, Block Drive, to control it. There are also some video games within the app that let you use the robot as a controller for on-screen sprites; for example, there's a game where you control a spaceship that's trying to shoot asteroids. More advanced users can try the Sphero Edu app, which has more advanced block-based coding scenarios.
Available September 16th for $49.99, the Mini Soccer is another rolling ball that you can drive or program with the Sphero Play app. However, in this case, the ball has been painted so that it resembles a soccer ball and it comes with cones you can use to build a slalom for it. Because the ball is opaque there are no LED lights.
Both the Sphero Mini and Mini Soccer robots are smaller than the Sphero Bolt (42-43mm vs 73mm), the company's highest-end rolling robot, which makes them easier to fit in a pocket or build mazes for. They connect to your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth and promise up to a 45-minute battery life.