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June 15, 2017

Sphero ditches the robots for a storytelling Spider-Man toy

by John_A

Sphero is moving beyond cute, connected rolling balls fast. Less than a month after introducing a tie-in for the animated movie franchise Cars, the company’s now taking the wraps off of its first non-robotic product. And it’s another toy built in partnership with Disney. Meet Sphero’s Spider-Man, a replica of the beloved Marvel superhero than listens and responds to your voice commands. Unlike with its versions of BB-8 and Ultimate Lightning McQueen though, this Spider-Man doesn’t depend on an app to be fully functional.

Right behind the character’s light-up eyes, there’s an Android device, and all you have to do to turn the “premium rubber” doll into a talking and listening companion is click the spider on his chest. Sphero says the toy features “100 comic books” worth of storytelling , which you can bring up by using simple voice commands like, “Hey Spidey, tell me a story.” You can also ask him what his favorite color is or what he’s up to, and his responses will be just as quirky and playful as you’d expect from Spider-Man himself.

Once you pair the toy with its mobile app, you can see how much battery it has or turn it into an alarm clock. More importantly perhaps, Sphero says it took all the precautions to make sure its new toy is secure, which is why all the voice processing is stored locally and never sent up to the cloud. That’s important considering the target audience for this are kids, and we know how careless some toy makers have been with sensitive data.

Either way, you won’t have to wait long for Sphero’s Spider-Man. It’s hitting stores today for $159/£149, and you can get one for yourself from the Sphero online store or retailers like Best Buy and Target in the US, or Argos, John Lewis and others in the UK. Just in time for the premiere of Spider-Man: Homecoming next month, on July 7th.

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