Get ready for the next generation of playing with your balls. Sphero, the robotic ball out of Orbotix that can be controlled with just a smartphone, has now grown up a bit, with the company launching Sphero 2.0 today. Sphero 2.0 is twice as fast, rolling at a clip of about seven feet per second, and it's three times as brightly lit as the first generation ball. According to co-founder Chief Software Architect, Adam Wilson, the second-gen robot isn't just faster and stronger, it's actually smarter. Sphero 2.0 is now equipped with a different user interface, letting you "level up" as you get more and more control over the ball. When you start, you'll be at a somewhat limited speed. The more you level up by completing challenges (such as driving for a whole minute without hitting anything), the faster your Sphero will roll, and the more LED colors you'll have access to. Even with other Sphero games, such as tag, you can level up and get more speed. Along with the upgraded robot, Sphero 2.0 also comes with an inductive charger and two little ramps right out of the box, so you can work on getting some air. As an added accessory, you can also pick up something the Orbotix guys are calling a "Nubby Protector," which is a little rubber cover that gives the Sphero some extra traction, especially when you're playing around in the pool. Covers come in red, clear, blue or yellow. But Sphero 2.0 isn't the only robot rushing around — Orbotix is also introducing Sphero Revealed, an Apple-exclusive version of the device that has a partially clear shell so users can see the inner-workings of the robot. Sphero 2.0 is meant to reach a new demographic. Obviously, nerds and tech geeks lean toward the Sphero considering it's one of the more advanced consumer robots available on the market. But Orbotix wants to reach younger kids, who automatically seem to enjoy the idea of leveling up and giving their Spheros an identity. Plus, getting on board with a younger demographic allows for more educational opportunities with the Sphero. Sphero 2.0 is currently compatible with up to 25 different applications and games, along with the standard Sphero app. According to Wilson, the two-year break between new models is about what we should expect from Orbotix moving forward, but that doesn't mean they aren't working on other things. Wilson revealed that the company has things in the pipeline, including stuff to show at CES in January. So there's plenty to look forward to. If you're interested in getting your hands on a Sphero 2.0, which costs $129.99, pre-order begins today with in-store availability starts on August 31. And if you're really excited about seeing the guts of a Sphero, hold out until September 4 and you can pick up a translucent Sphero Revealed in Apple Stores. The original Sphero will also drop down to $109.99 at retail.
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