Monday, November 21, 2016

Apps & Coding & Robots: Put Sphero's SPRK+ On Your Gift List! #HGG2016

When this guy showed up on my doorstep, I barely had time to acknowledge what it was before Boo grabbed it away from me. And then I wasn't sure if I could find it again to actually take some pictures and play a bit for myself. I shouldn't have worried. He knew where it was and was happy to tell me all about it.

Honestly, he gets the credit for this review. He LOVES this toy.

The SPRK+ is a programmable, spherical robot from Sphero. Using the Lightning Lab app, your kids (or you!) can create simple block coding that you send to SPRK+ via Bluetooth. You can change the colour of the LED lights, map out a set of directions for SPRK+ to move, change speeds, or make it spin on its gyroscope. If you don't want to use the coding blocks, a different feature in the app lets you draw out a path and send it, or control the robot in real time. Boo has been having fun experimenting with the drawing feature, and how the size of his drawing relates to the size of the actual path he's created. Of course he wanted to make a video!

You'll see SPRK+ getting banged around a bit in the video. It actually took quite a beating as he practised coding and real time controlling the robot's movements. But no fear, his UV coated polycarbonate shell is super durable. Even better? SPRK+ is waterproof! Yep, you can program him to go for a swim. There's a video on their site showing two kids racing homemade boats powered by their SPRK+ robots. I have this on the list for next pool season!

While we are just getting started with our SPRK+ robot, we know there is lots more to explore. Boo wants to use the included maze tape to set up courses and try his hand at coding a program to get our robot through safely. And we received a couple of accessories as well, including a Turbo Tire for speed and a Nubby Cover for all-terrain action. Given that this is waterproof, I'm thinking we'll try it in the snow this winter.

Maybe we'll even try our hand at building a vehicle to be powered by SPRK+. There's boundless options for play and learning value, as this robot sparks your child's imagination and creativity.

SPRK+ comes with an inductive charging base and USB charging cable. It can provide 60+ minutes of run time on a full charge, and goes up to 2.5m/sec. To operate SPRK+ you will need to download the Sphero Lightning Lab app (available on Android and iOS). The app also connects you to a worldwide community of users to share ideas and tips. Sphero SPRK+ retails for around $150 CDN. This would be a super gift for any tech loving kid or adult on your list!

Disclosure: I received complimentary product to facilitate this review. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family.

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