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CES: Meet Sphero, the iPhone gaming ball

Gyroscope lets you control ball's movement from iOS

A cool gadget called Sphero was gathering plenty of interest in the iLounge Pavilion on the first day of CES.

It's a glowing ball - about the size of a cricket ball - with gyroscopes inside that allow two way control: you can make the ball roll around from your iPhone, or you can hold the ball and move it around to control an avatar in an iOS game.

The ball costs $129; there are five apps with various games, and these are currently free to download. And Sphero hopes that lots more apps will appear in future. It has made the API and SDK open for other companies to easily make applications that use the hardware.

The gyroscope seems fairly strong: with a bit of a run-up, it was able to get up a high enough speed for the ball to climb over a little ramp.

It establishes a wireless connection with your iPhone - or iPad, iPod touch or even Android device - using Bluetooth, and maintains an impressively responsive connection between the two; we were told it has a response rate of 20Hz, and our experiments with a 'Simon Says' type game were smooth and quick.

Charging is also wireless, with the ball sitting in an induction cup and refilling its batteries (these last for an hour, the company told us).

Rather nicely, you can alter the colour that Sphero glows. So on the small course the company had set up, each player had chosen their own colour so they could easily tell who was winning.


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