Sphero | Connected Toys

Weekly Wrap Up - The Nom Factor

24 May 2016
Weekly Wrap Up - The Nom Factor

Feeling hungry? Our answer would be "always". Regardless of breakfast, mid-morning snacks, lunch, afternoon snacks, and pre-dinner snacks, our appetites appear to be pretty insatiable (What exactly is ’full’ anyway?). Food is kind of a big deal here at Sphero and our options are never in short supply.

Every Friday the masses flock to the kitchen to receive their appetite’s worth of their daily bread, followed by a company-wide state of the union. After snagging the last and much-sought-after chocolate chip cookie (Wait, is that oatmeal raisin? Nah, I’m good then.), Sphero-ites with full bellies will gather for the "presidential address".

This weekly meeting is one of the few moments where all of Sphero’s teams are in the same place at the same time, utilising this precious hour to give big deal updates. We introduce any fresh-faced noobs to the company, present nominees on both the Board of Thanks and Chicken Foot (we’ll get into this another time) and lastly, have a quick game of trivia.

 

This however, is accompanied by the ravenous thoughts of second helpings, conducting an inner monologue that goes a little something like:

 

“Are there any cookies left? Oooo…there’s one half left of that apple brie sandwich…doesn’t look like anyone else is eyeing it. Are second lunches a thing? ‘Cause they should be. Maybe I can casually saunter over during the next round of clapping. Oh wait, the product team is next to present their update…ahhhhh….ok, I’ll wait until after I hear about [super-secret product name].”

 

So alas…we wait. And maybe we miss that last cookie (it was oatmeal raisin anyway), but we’d like to think our physical hunger transfers over to a mental one; to producing better products and continuing to innovate. There’s a popular saying at Sphero, which is to “stay hungry”. We like big appetites of both the stomach and mind, and for good reason, too. How else are cool products like BB-8, Sphero, SPRK and Ollie made? With some hard work, ingenious minds and reasonable chocolate chip cookie rations.

So at the risk of sounding eerily similar to, yet maybe not as well-bearded as the Most Interesting Man In The World, we advise you to “stay hungry”, my friends.

To hold you over until dinner (or your next snack, let’s be honest), here's something to chew on: A Day In the Life and ICYMI Top 5.

A Day In The Life: Anne Gatchell

Weekly Wrap Up - The Nom Factor

Q. Hi there. To start things off, let’s get a few formalities out of the way: Who are you and what’s your title here?

A. My name is Anne Gatchell and I am a Software Engineer at Sphero.

Q. Can you explain what exactly you do at Sphero?

A. I work on our Platform Team, so I deal in infrastructure that is used across our whole company. In any given day, I may be writing code around how best to store data or move it around, aggregating data for other departments, analyzing metrics, or working on infrastructure that allows our apps to have web components.

Q. For those that have some idea of what you’re talking about—unlike myself—what advice can you impart for someone who’s looking to get into the same thing?

A. For a software development role, I recommend working on your own software projects and deploying them. Try grabbing data from some api, like Twitter, and performing some analysis on it and making use of some new data store that you haven’t used before, and get it out there on AWS. I also value what I learned in my Computer Science degree, but so much of what we do on a daily basis has to do with the intricacies of running software in a production environment and all the nuances involved.

Q. I see you, science. Can you share what you’re currently working on?

A. One thing we are doing is rewriting a system that worked well when we were a little tiny startup selling a few spheros, but is now way too big for its britches. Scalability, FTW!

Q. I’m a fan of a bigger britches. So what is your favourite aspect of working at Sphero? Ice cream day is pretty sweet (see what I did there?) so if it’s that, I get it.

A. My favorite part about working is Sphero is working alongside so many different disciplines. We have amazing artists, marketers, electrical engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, educators, packaging specialists, and many more talented people. It’s neat to have all these smarties under one roof.

Q. So which of our smarty bots is your fave and why?

A. Hard to say. I love that BB-8 has personality, but I am also pretty partial to the Ollie I have on my desk. What a cutie!

Q. I know Ollie’s blushing right now. Ok, let’s dig a bit deeper—what do you like to do outside of Sphero?

A. I love to paint and draw. Art is my passion, and I draw or paint every single day. I love to work with oils, and I’ve been having fun with digital art and ink recently as well. I also love to mountain bike all over the place!

Q. You’re in the perfect place. What do you love about living in Colorado (besides basically everything)?

A. I love that I can hop in the car and in about 6-8 hours I can be mountain biking (or snowboarding, depending on the season) in places like Crested Butte, Moab, Taos, Fruita, Wolf Creek, etc. The scenery here is so beautiful, it’s not even fair.

Q. Probably why everyone’s moving here. For those that are new, can you recommend a place I gotta check out?

A. In Colorado? I’d go bike the Teocalli Ridge loop outside Crested Butte. Big uphill climb, but the downhill and views are worth it.

Q. I’ll definitely check that out. Alright, back to you—tell me something about yourself that will blow my mind. Or at least that I will find unexpected.

A. I sometimes take breakdancing classes.

Catch you next week. Bring some snacks.

ICYMI Top 5:

  1. Get BB-8 back to the resistance.
  2. Bulldogs and Sphero never get old.
  3. Galaxies far, far away.
  4. Making waves.
  5. Major stage presence.

Weekly Wrap Up - CES Asia

18 May 2016
Weekly Wrap Up - CES Asia

This week we've just returned from Shanghai where your friends Ollie, Darkside, SPRK and BB-8 were giving crowds a taste of connected play at CES Asia. Although everyone had a blast (the proof is in the pictures), we’re a bit jet-lagged. Nevertheless, no amount of sleep deprivation—nor lack of cognitive thought—will hold this blog back. With the insatiable appetite of a youngster returning from their gap year abroad, we have some pictures we’re stoked to share. Don’t worry—we’ve played our reservations well and only show ONE food picture.

Tx3 (Toys, Tricks & Tips):

In the spirit of the enthusiasm we saw in Shanghai this week, we’d also like to bring one of our favourite bots to your attention. For those of you who don’t know Ollie, definitely get to know him. As fans here and back in Shanghai will tell you, not only is he a TON of fun to drive (topping out at 14mph), but he goes totally berserk in Trick Mode; becoming a jumping, mesmerising funnel of lights and sound you can’t look away from. How do you get this guy to lose it? While in the Ollie App, turn your device sideways to enter Trick Mode. After that, it’s as simple as using your fingers to swipe or drag opposing corners of the trick pad to unleash some serious trick combos, sure to please the senses. Or yield a drooling stare or two.

Now that you’ve marveled over Ollie’s awesomeness, we leave you with a fresh face to get acquainted with—one of our mechanical engineering masterminds. A perfect segue, if we do say so ourselves.

A Day In The Life: Colin Godby

Weekly Wrap Up - CES Asia

Q. First let’s get a few formalities out of the way: Who are you and what's your title?

A. Colin Godby and I am the Hardware Manager.

Q. And what exactly do you do at Sphero every day?

A. Many days I am consulting my team of engineers to make sure projects are on track and that there are no technical hurdles that I can help with. Overall, my job is really about making the engineer`s lives easier so that they can focus on being innovative and productive.

Q. What advice can you impart for someone who’s looking to get into the same thing? Inquiring minds want to know…

A. I think it is essential to first work as an engineer on a wide variety of projects before becoming an engineering manager. Since my job is to aggregate and share information, it is super helpful to have had the opportunity to work in many different industries. Step out of your comfort zone and be challenged, take on large projects and grow along the way.

Q. Becoming a Jack-Of-All-Trades, so to speak. I dig it. Can you share what you’re currently working on or is it super secret?

A. Stay tuned, its not announced yet!

Q. The anticipation is killing me! Well, besides the cool, secret things you get to work on, what is your favourite aspect of working at Sphero? The candy drawer is pretty sweet (see what I did there?), so if it’s that, I get it.

A. There are many things that I like about Sphero, but it really comes down to a few things. The wide range of personalities we interact with on a daily basis, being a part of helping shape the Connected Play market segment and finally, the personal fulfillment of seeing the products you work on out in the real world, delighting and inspiring wonder on a daily basis.

Q. Does one of our bots hold a special place in your heart?

A. I would say Ollie. I am a big fan of motorsports, and its combination of speed, stunts and durability really resonate with my interests.

Q. Ok, I think we can dig a little deeper—what do you like to do outside of Sphero? What gets you going?

A. I love being outdoors (biking, snowboarding, camping), BBQing with friends and family, consuming information of all kinds, and helping to raise my awesome little son.

Q. What do you love about living in Colorado (besides basically everything)?

A. We moved to Colorado last year after having an opportunity to go many different places. We ultimately chose Colorado because it is the perfect blend of outdoor activities, culture, lifestyle pace, and career opportunities (Sphero!).

Q. And we’re so glad you came. Can you recommend a place I gotta check out? What's your favorite spot to eat or hang?

A. I love exploring new places. It`s hard to pin down a favorite, but I keep going back to Two Rivers Coffee and Sweet Cow Ice cream!

Q. Sweet Cow holds many hearts here at Sphero. Ok, let’s finish on a strong note. Tell me something about yourself that will blow my mind (or I will at least find unexpected, thus semi-blowing my mind).

A. I had a very short career as a professional navigator in off road races. I co-drove in the Baja 1000 twice, the Baja 500 once and a 4500 mile long race across Russia and Mongolia called the Transsyberia Rallye in 2008.

What would Ollie do? Catch you on the FLIP side next week, that’s what.

Ok, we’re done. Zzzzzzzz…..

ICYMI Top 5:

  1. BB-8 is getting outdoorsy.
  2. Contemplative BB-8 contemplates.
  3. The writing says it all.
  4. SPRK like you've never seen before...
  5. That time we tried to light Sphero on fire.

Weekly Wrap Up - All Hail Mom

13 May 2016

Hey, kiddos. Hope you all are well-rested after braving the brunch crowds this weekend in the name of Mom. Perhaps the weather was nice where you are and you wanted to sit outside. Perhaps that added 45 minutes to your wait time. Maybe there were mimosas imbibed. Maybe you got her flowers. Either way, hope words of love and admiration after x-number of years raising you were exchanged. Because moms not only like that kinda stuff, they totally deserve it.

This week yours truly is gearing up to take our bots to CES Asia. You can be sure you’ll hear all about our adventures in the east—with only a few hundred detailed pictures of the amazing food we’ll be eating—next week.

For now, not only are we boosting our efforts to doing cool things and bringing you cool stuff, we’re also revitalising this blog. Sorry it’s been a minute since we spoke last, but we’ve missed you guys.

Every week until maybe forever, you can expect some cheeky comments from us followed by A Day In The Life, which features one of our very own Sphero-ites, and ICYMI Top 5 Instagram posts of the past week. Not to say you’re not already stalking us, but we like to keep it modest.

Hope new faces and fancy acronyms get you all jazzed up, ‘cause here we go:

A Day In The Life: Hunter Clawson

Weekly Wrap Up - All Hail Mom

Q. First let’s get a few formalities out of the way: Who are you and what's your title?

A. Hi. My name is Hunter Clawson and I'm Sphero's Creative Director.

Q. And what exactly do you do at Sphero every day?

A. A creative director directs a brand's creative direction. Additionally, my position ensures that everything the creative team produces is totally radical – and is delivered on time, on budget and on brand. But that's not all. As the leader of a ridiculously talented creative team, I must also pair projects with passions, connect the unconnected dots and fight for what's right – creativity speaking.

Q. What advice can you impart for someone who’s looking to get into the same thing? Inquiring minds want to know…

A. Work your way from the bottom to the top. Ditch the ego. Learn as much as you can. Ignore traditional trajectories and be a dual-threat copywriter / art director. Read "Ogilvy on Advertising". Listen to Leo Burnett's speech about the "Lonely Man". And above all, hustle hard. The best ideas happen outside of the 9-5 grind.

Q. Solid advice. Can you share what you’re currently working on or is it super secret?

A. Currently, I'm filling out this questionnaire. I'm not sure I love my previous answers, but it's late so they'll have to do for now.

Q. So super secret stuff, got it. Besides the cool things you get to work on, what is your favourite aspect of working at Sphero? The candy drawer is pretty sweet (see what I did there?), so if it’s that, I get it.

A. Boulder Creek runs right behind the office, and there's nothing like having your morning coffee and flyfishing for brown trout before work.

Q. Which of our bots is your fave and why?

A. I plead the fifth.

Q. Ok, let’s dig deep. What do you like to do outside of Sphero? What gets you going?

A. Flyfishing. From big freestone rivers to tailwaters to tiny creeks, Colorado has it all. I try to get out once every week - even in the winter. There's something about standing in a river that resets the mind after a long week.

Q. What do you love about living in Colorado (besides basically everything)?

A. Flyfishing. Trout live in epic places.

Q. OK, based on your previous two answers, I think I may know the answer to this, but can you recommend a place I gotta check out? What's your favorite spot to eat or hang?

A. The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park. Amazing view, not a horrible climb... and plenty of Greenback Cutthroat trout looking to make a mistake.

Q. Ok, let’s finish on a strong note. Tell me something about yourself that will blow my mind (or I will at least find unexpected, thus semi-blowing my mind).

A. I despise mayonaise.

ICYMI Top 5:

  1. Evening repost: Celebrate with BB-8
  2. Celebrate with BB-8… and May the 4th be with you.
  3. We wouldn't be here without you.
  4. Round robot meets round animal.
  5. Little Rey with her Little BB-8

Introducing BB-8™ by Sphero

04 Sep 2015

This is the Droidtm you're looking for.

Introducing BB-8™ by Sphero

Trust us. When it comes to the Force, the Sphero team gets it.

Over the years, the Star Wars™ experience has always lived on screen and in our imaginations. We’ve been captivated time and time again by adventures, taken to extraordinary new worlds, and introduced to heroes (and villains) that we’d never forget. Star Wars has become a part of our lives.

Toys have always been used as the inspiration to extend the life of the story long after the credits roll. They’re something we’ve grown up with, collected, and cherished since 1977. To have the opportunity to create something that is not only a part of this legacy, but to bring it to life in an innovative way was an honor for our team... because it’s something that we love.

Sphero has teamed up with Lucasfilm and Disney Consumer Products to bring a new part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens™ into your home. Through months of secrecy and hard work, we’re thrilled to finally share something with the world that, until today, has only been illustrated through science fiction. It’s not a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. it’s right here, right now.

Meet BB-8™ - the app-enabled Droid™ whose movements and personality are as authentic as they are advanced. BB-8™ is your very own Astromech Droid™, and his traits begin to shine the second he wakes up. He is playful, personable, and true to the Star Wars™ galaxy.

BB-8™ has something unlike any other robot - an adaptive personality that changes as you play. Based on your interactions, BB-8 will show a range of expressions and even perk up when given voice commands. If he is left idle for too long, BB-8™ will playfully attempt to get your attention. BB-8’s™ advanced traitware makes all of these actions possible. This is not a toy, this is a Droid™!

Introducing BB-8™ by Sphero

Once the companion app is downloaded, the classic Star Wars™ theme ushers you into an innovative connected play experience, merging the digital world with a self-aware Droid™. Your Droid™ is ready to be guided by you or to start exploring your surroundings on its own. Set it to Patrol and watch your Droid™ make the rounds autonomously, guide BB-8™ yourself, or create and view holographic recordings.

It’s now possible to explore the galaxy with your own trusty Astromech Droid™ by your side. BB-8™ is more than a toy - it’s your companion.

BB-8™ is now available worldwide through sphero.com and at retailers including Apple, Amazon, Brookstone, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Marbles: The Brain Store, and more.