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Star Wars BB-8: the droid everyone’s looking for


That present on the kids’ Christmas list that you’re secretly dying to play with yourself? This Christmas there’ only going to be one contender: the Star Wars BB-8 droid. In fact it’s already selling out fast…

This smartphone-controlled droid is actually a rebadged version of the Sphero toy that has been available for some time. However, the changes are more than cosmetic. For starters, the Star Wars version has a head that’s kept in place by magnets and some very smart firmware.

The spherical little critter can be controlled via an accompanying smartphone app for either iOS or (of course) Android. You can control the robot using touchscreen controls or one of eight voice commands (“move forward” etc.). If you can’t be bothered to drive the orange-sized droid yourself, it can be put into Patrol mode and allowed to roam freely around the room, with the app providing real-time data on the little fella’s movements.

Perhaps the coolest feature is the option to record your own holographic video, à la Princess Leia’s R2-D2 video voicemail in the orginal Star Wars. Alas, the droid doesn’t beam the recorded messages itself: instead the app uses augmented reality to make it looks like BB-8 is broadcasting your video message, but the effect seems pretty convincing from the demo videos.

BB-8 comes with his own inductive charger, so you can pop him back on his stand and recharge his batteries when he’s not spooking the hell out of the cat by bombing around the living room. The droid has a stated battery life of 60 minutes and a range of 30m, so he’s never going to get far, far away…

BB-8 was only launched at midnight but has already sold out on Amazon. Be prepared to camp outside Hamleys if you want the kids to have one of these under the tree this year.

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