Sphero’s The Rolling Dead Available on iOS and Android
Just in time for summer, Sphero’s The Rolling Dead has arrived in all its gruesome glory. As the first AR game for bothiOS and Android, The Rolling Dead is unlike any game you’ve ever played. Here's why.
Sphero Has Officially Rolled Around the World
Prepare to add another explorer to the history books. With fans like you at the controls, Sphero has officially rolled around the entire circumference of the Earth! For a robot that fits in the palm of your hand, we think rolling this is a milestone worth celebrating. Get the stats below on your combined Sphero accomplishments here.
The Making of Sphero – Peacekeeper Edition
When we launched a 3-foot tall version of Sphero called the Peacekeeper Edition on April Fool's Day, everyone thought it was a joke. It wasn't. Read on to find out how we made a functioning Sphero over 2500x the size of the original.
Augmented Reality for Sphero: Sharky the Beaver.
Explore the world of augmented reality in the first app of its kind for Sphero, Sharky the Beaver. Drive Sphero in real life and watch a virtual beaver walk around through the screen of your device. See Sharky in action and download today!
New App! Sphero Nyan Cat SpaceParty.
There’s a party in space, and you’re invited. Sphero and Nyan Cat have come together to release Sphero Nyan Cat SpaceParty. Available for both iOS and Android, SpaceParty can be played as a stand-alone app or using Sphero. Find out more and download today.
Announcing 6 New Apps for Sphero!
We’re excited to announce the launch of 6 new apps, including our first multi-player apps and first arcade-style game. Check out our blog post for more info. You can also visit our apps page to see all of the apps.
New trend alert! It’s easier than the Harlem Shake, and cooler than the robot. It’s called Spheroing, and here’s what it’s all about.
One little baller (see above) creatively posed as the Sphero logo the other week right after purchasing his Sphero. His hand gesture has since been trending around our entire office, and it’s making the peace sign look so yesterday. He even inspired our co-founder, who is busy making Spheros by hand in China, to get involved. It’s simple – you ready? With one hand circled around your eye, and the infamous “swoosh” or cowlick Sphero so handsomely sports highlighted with your pinky, stick out your tongue. Voilà – you’re Spheroing! The dinosaur shirt is optional, but you get extra points if your pinky points the right way. So long hand wave. Goodbye peace sign. From now on, we’re Spheroing. Send us your Spheroing photos for the chance to be featured in our Facebook album. We salute you, pinkies up!
With the launch of apps like Sphero’s The Rolling Dead and technology like Google Glass forging the way, it is a very exciting time for augmented reality. Of course, similar claims have been made about virtual and augmented reality since the 80’s. Every year, someone predicts: this is the year our holodeck dreams will finally be realized. The full holodeck experience is still a long way off, but the explosion of powerful, sensor-equipped mobile devices ensures the ubiquity of augmented reality is just around the corner. The surest evidence of this fact is the increasing availability of SDKs (like the Sphero AR SDK/Unity Plugin) allowing developers to create exciting, immersive, augmented reality experiences without any special knowledge of computer vision, sensor fusion, or any of the other specialized technologies behind modern AR engines.
There is only one answer: the hardware. Twenty years ago, essentially every component of a mobile AR platform was prohibitively large, expensive, or technologically insufficient. Processing video in real-time requires an extraordinary amount of computational power. This brings back memories of Steve Feiner’s “Touring Machine”, which required the user to wear a backpack computer! As for digital cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes and mobile displays, prices were high and quality was low. The smartphone revolution changed all that. Chances are, you have a capable augmented reality device in your pocket.
What is AR… Really?
At a recent augmented reality conference, I was showing an elderly woman the Sphero app “Sharky the Beaver”. The app allows you to control Sphero (a robotic ball) from a smart phone or tablet. The display shows video coming from the back facing camera of the mobile device with one significant augmentation: an adorably plump, animated beaver rendered over the ball. If you are looking at the screen, it appears as if you are driving a 3D cartoon character around your living room.
She pointed at the screen and said “I see the beaver here…but I don’t see it here,” pointing at the real ball sitting on the floor. “How is that augmented reality?” To be sure, I had a good laugh on the inside. But, the truth is, she makes a great point. Augmented reality is an audacious term, undeserved almost everywhere it is applied. No holodecks quite yet, unfortunately.
To avoid this confusion, I try to use more specific language. Apps like 13th Labs/Mojang’s “Minecraft Reality” should probably be called augmented video. That is what they literally do: render virtual content into a video feed so as to deceive the user into thinking it is real. Location based games are often categorized as augmented reality too. Google’s “Ingress”, for instance, might be more appropriately called augmented cartography. While Google Glass has yet to arrive commercially, its small, off-center display makes it unsuitable for immersive experiences. Likely, Google Glass applications will be appropriately described as annotated reality.
You may chuckle and think I am taking this analysis too far. But soon, real and virtual sensory information will be even more mixed up than they are now. Phrases like augmented reality will lose their edge and it will be important to distinguish exactly what is being augmented. If you want a real chuckle, try imagining if other senses were augmented.
Robotics and the Sphero AR SDK
How about “Sharky the Beaver”? One could make a compelling case that this is an example of augmented video. Rendering a virtual character into a video stream certainly qualifies, but I think there is more to it than that.
Sphero is a robot. It can move. It can behave autonomously. It is a digital device with a mechanical toehold in reality. We may not have force-field treadmills quite yet, but we can augment one tiny round piece of reality. The Sphero AR Unity Plugin allows developers with a little .NET experience and no background in robotics to coordinate robot behavior with virtual content.
Practically speaking, what does this mean? In terms of gameplay, it means quite a lot. Have you ever wrecked a toy truck into a pretend building? Have you ever made “countries” by dividing up a room with scotch tape? Have you ever uttered the phrase “the carpet is lava!”? If your childhood was as fun as mine you are going to love what augmented reality has to offer in the next ten years. If playing pretend is an alien concept, don’t worry. We’ll bring you up to speed.
To see Sphero’s augmented reality capabilities in action, check out our new app The Rolling Dead, now available on iOS and Android. You can learn more about AR with Sphero here.
The zombiepocalypse is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited. Just in time for summer, Sphero’s The Rolling Dead has arrived in all its gruesome glory. As the first augmented reality game for Sphero that is available for bothiOS and Android, The Rolling Dead is unlike any game you’ve ever played. Here’s why.
In this thrilling twist on the zombie craze, the world becomes a video game and you choose the surroundings. By simply looking through your device’s camera, you can watch your living room floor, driveway, or any place you choose become infested with the undead. While mayhem unfolds, it’s your job to use Sphero as a fireball-shooting warrior to battle against virtual zombies as they spawn in front of your eyes. Drive Sphero around to gain ammo and set the corpses on fire as quickly as possible before being eaten. You can even collect fiery power-ups that turn Sphero into a flaming ball for maximum zombie-destroying potential. See what your experience will feel like in the video above, and check out the real app in action below.
Sphero is now rolling around on the coolest new social media site to hit the interwebs – Vine. It’s like a GIF, but better. To celebrate our recent roll-out, we’ve decided to unleash our inner preteen and put together a game of Sphero MASH using Vine videos. In case you’re unfamiliar, this retro game is an extremely inaccurate and awesome way to predict your future. Since we’re way past pen and paper during homeroom, here’s our version. Simply scroll down and click on each video to pause it and find out your destiny.
WHAT TECH JOB WILL YOU HAVE?
WHAT GEEK WILL YOU MARRY?
WHAT SPHERO APP WILL YOU PLAY?
WHAT TYPE OF BACON WILL YOU EAT?
WHAT CAT WILL YOU OWN?
Check us out on Vine @GoSphero to see behind-the-scenes footage from around our office and more! And don’t forget to tag your own videos with #Sphero. We can’t wait to see what six-second goodness you come up with.
Google Glass is a new paradigm in the world of connected computers, and the Orbotix team was lucky enough to receive this one last week at Google I/O in San Francisco. We’ve spent the majority of that week playing with our Glass, and have since loaded some apps of our own. Here’s how we made it happen it using Google Sky as our example.
For this tutorial we will show you how install Google Sky (also known as stardroid) without rooting your Glass or swapping roms. This is the same basic procedure you would go through to manually load an app on an Android phone, but since Google Glass has a limited amount of input, the specific app you install matters. Google Sky is perfect! It doesn’t require any user input other than the accelerometer and gyroscopic sensor data, but it will show you an amazing amount of information when looking at the night sky.
Before we begin it is important that you already have the Android SDK, most importantly you need ADB (android debug bridge). You also need to be somewhat familiar with opening a new terminal window. We used Mac 10.8+, but these same basic directions will work for Linux and might need a little modification for Windows. We also assume you download files to your home Download directory, but you can change this as needed. (~/Downloads)
Download and Install the Android SDK (http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html). We find it helpful to have adb in your PATH so you can call it from anywhere (you may want to add it to your .bashrc or whatever you are using).
First things first, Put your Glass in “Debug Mode” in the settings on the Glass itself. Locate the device info and scroll right to turn Debug Mode on. Then plug your Glass into your computer using the USB micro cable.
Now grab a version of Google Sky that you want to install (this is the same for any Android .apk file).
Simply load the .apk file onto the Glass with adb.
After the .apk is loaded onto Glass you now need to use adb shell to run it. The trick here is that you need to figure out what Activity to run. You can use the adb command dumpsys to discover a plethora of information about your Glass. You can figure out the main activity for the .apk with a little help from grep, and since it was the last thing loaded we can also narrow this information down with a tail command.
This might take some time depending on your system, but it will eventually return something similar to this:
You now have the right information to start the app on Glass. We use the am command to start the app on Glass. Simply reformat the Activity call to follow the same format as the stardroid example call below:
At this point tap your Glass on and the app should be running. You will need to “down swipe” on your glass to cancel the agreement window. If you see the app running, disconnect, go outside, and check this out at nighttime! Warning: you may feel like a terminator with some kind of super power.
Note: this is not part of the Official Glass Mirror API that is displayed on your timeline and running apps full time like this is a drain on the battery, which is not in Google’s application design guidelines. It merely demonstrates how to sideload an app on Glass in your terminal without voiding your warranty.
Why we think this is awesome:
Some people will say that you can do this exact same thing with your smartphone, and we agree you can. But what fascinates us about this is a constant stream of information about our world, in real time, with little or no effort on our part. We can imagine apps like Google Googles, and other augmented reality apps and games becoming extremely valid in a world where they were just neat to show off on a phone. Nobody holds their phone up looking through the camera as they walk around – it’s just hard to do.
This all excites us when we relate it back to what we are doing at Orbotix. Augmented reality is part of our DNA, as Sphero is the perfect moving, trackable robot that allows nearly any 3D digital experience to be seamlessly stitched into our real world with little effort from the user. You see a 3D digital character like Sharky the Beaver magically appear on your living room floor and you can control it around your house.
We hope for this same magical experience from Google Glass as it is fully developed. It should naturally pop up information about the things around us based on our Google Now history and what I am looking at. If I have to manually tell it to “scan” a bar code, it’s doing it wrong. For now, this is the closest we have ever felt to being in a science fiction movie. Google Glass is an incredible step toward an amazing future and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.