Tougher Sphero rolls out to show STEAM classrooms what it’s made of

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The Sphero SPRK+ robot ball is designed to help teach kids about coding 

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Sphero SPRK+ is the latest iteration of the robot ball toy, which is designed to help educate kids about coding. The ball features a tough clear shell which lets users see exactly what technology they are controlling, and uses Bluetooth SMART to make connecting it with compatible smartphones or tablets as easy as tapping the two devices together.

We've kept an eye on Sphero's app-controlled robot balls since we saw them back in 2010. Since then they've become faster, and even taken on the appearance of a certain droid from Star Wars, which we said made it one of the best toys of 2015. Now Sphero has revealed its latest model aimed at the education sector, and teaching kids about coding.

The SPRK+ follows on from the original SPRK, and to a lesser extent the Sphero 2.0 Revealed, in that it has a clear shell to show off its technical innards. It's hoped that being able to see the inner workings of the robot ball will make it more interesting to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) students, who can use it with the SPRK Lightning Lab app to learn about coding via a block-based building interface.

This time, a new tough clear scratch-resistant shell is being used, which we welcome because in our experience the original SPRK tended to get scuffed up rather quickly. The new ball also uses Bluetooth SMART to enable better and easier connectivity with compatible (iOS and Android) smartphones and tablets via a tap-to-connect feature, which could make life easier for teachers in busy classrooms.

As with previous versions of the rolling toy, it packs inductive charging, an accelerometer and gyroscope along with LED lights which can be controlled in-app. The ball is also waterproof, and compatible with accessories including cases, jumps, and even a chariot cover which lets you build a LEGO creation on top.

An updated version of the SPRK Lightning Lab app (which is also compatible with previous Sphero robots) boasts 150 new hands-on learning activities, along with the improved programming canvas. The app will also highlight trending content and offer a more streamlined experience between mobile and desktop.

The Sphero SPRK+ is available now for US$130, or $160 with a bundle of accessories.

You can check out a promo video for the Sphero SPRK+ below.

Product page: Sphero SPRK+

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