How Sphero Works

Does Sphero represent the next generation in gaming systems?
Courtesy of Orbotix

Before you can answer if Sphero is a hero or a zero, you'll probably need to know what the heck-ola a Sphero is and why even President Barack Obama wanted to take it for a spin.

Sphero is built by a company called Orbotix, and its co-founder, Ian Bernstein, says that Sphero is the next generation in gaming systems. You've got your old-school Atari, NES, and even PlayStation, with their wired controllers. Then you've got the Nintendo Wii with its magic wand and the Xbox and its Kinect, which took gaming and the controllers into the third dimension. Sphero is the next step -- gamers will no longer have to just stare at the screen. Physical reality -- your surroundings -- will come into play.

Which is lovely, but if you've never seen Sphero, describing it in such highfalutin terms isn't helping, so here's the lowdown: It's a ball. A white ball. It's got a little blue sort of face-like logo on it. It glows in different colors. And yes, at a demo in April 2012, President Obama had a go with Sphero, saying, "Excuse me, give me some space to drive my ball."

All right, let's bust this little guy open and see what Sphero's got going on in there.