It wasn’t too long ago that I saw my first Sphero robot. It was fun to play with although a little tough to get used to movement-wise. That experience was with the first generation Sphero and since that time, the company has branched out into licensed devices like the droids from Star Wars. When I had the opportunity to try out Spider-man by Sphero I thought, “How cool! My very own superhero!” Unfortunately, the experience was less exciting than my anticipation.
The packaging is quite impressive and I have to say that it is adorned in the red/blue branding of Spider-man. It’s very classy looking and has a lot of great graphics on the outside of it. Spider-man himself is one solid piece. Other than plugging in his charging base with the Micro USB cable that is provided (no power adapter included), there is no other assembly required. Getting started with Spider-man is very easy, too. Once you have him plugged into power and charging, you download the app from the App Store (iTunes or Android) and power him on.
The first thing you will go through is a short warm-up to get you familiar with interacting with the hero. This is where the experience sort of fell flat with me. Spider-man does not move. Other than his eyes, which are small LED panels, there is no animation whatsoever. The app is very well-developed and gives users several ways to interact with the statue, but I personally would have liked to see some additional moving parts. I didn’t expect him to swing around the room with a web, but I did think that maybe his head would turn and his arms would be controllable. Spider-man does sense when you move him around, for example, if you pick him up and swing him around the room, but other than that, he’s basically just a free-standing statue.
All that said, Spider-man does look really cool. I was amazed with the detailing on the device and the soft silicone feel of the device. His voice rings through loud and clear and he did understand me pretty well when I talked back to him. The main part of this experience happens in the app. Spider-man can stand guard in a room (he will just report to you that there was motion/activity), act as an alarm, tell you jokes, and even watch TV with you (Spider-man animated series only). For an adult, it’s a little cheesy especially for the price you pay for it, but for, but for a kid, I could see this being a good experience for learning how to interact with an artificial intelligence-driven device.
Spider-man by Sphero is a unique version of ‘create your own adventure’ for the next generation. He looks cool and does work as he should. I just expected a bit more on interactivity from the device itself.