During the pre-release hype for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, the Force Friday event that saw the release of tie-in merchandise made plenty of headlines. Arguably the most sought-after product was Sphero’s BB-8 – an app enabled droid that could interact with its environment, develop a personality, and record messages for friends. Combining the evolution of technology with the pure entertainment magic that Star Wars is known for, it became a hit over the holiday season and enthralled fans with all of its features.
At first glance, it seemed like there wasn’t anything Sphero could do to make the toy even more fun, but they may have just found a way. With The Force Awakens available on home media, those who own a BB-8 now have the capability to watch the movie with the adorable soccer ball, thanks to a new update that allows BB-8 to react to what’s happening on-screen with sounds and motion.
Sphero shared the details today (hat tip Toyland). After downloading the latest version of the BB-8 app, users will find a play mode titled “Watch With Me.” In order to get the desired effect, the app needs to have access to the device’s microphone, since that is how BB-8 will be able to hear the film’s audio. Because of this, it’s recommended that the viewer keeps their smartphone or tablet close to the television. During the movie, BB-8 is placed in his charging base, which should always be plugged in. Episode VII runs over two hours, so if fans want the best results, it’s smart to keep the droid fully powered.
The good news is that the app is compatible with any copy of Star Wars 7 (digital streaming, Blu-ray, DVD, etc.), so it doesn’t matter how one brings it home. Once The Force Awakens is playing, BB-8 will move his head around and make noises to convey numerous emotions. In addition, the update has a feature that brings up facts and information about the movie on the device’s screen. It’s unknown exactly what the app shows, but it sounds like longtime Star Wars fans (or those who have seen the film multiple times) can leave it off without missing much.
Though the novelty of “Watch With Me” may wear off after a viewing or two, there’s no denying that it’s very inventive and a great way for Sphero to capitalize on the Blu-ray release. Now, those who didn’t purchase a BB-8 last year may be inclined to do so, if only out of curiosity to see how it all works. The Force Awakens was a film that stirred up all sorts of feelings in the hearts of Star Wars fans around the globe; it’ll be fascinating to see how BB-8’s responses to the movie’s biggest moments compare to the viewer’s. Given his association with the Resistance, they should be easy to predict, but it could depend on how the specific BB-8 model has adapted to its setting and owner.
Time will tell if Sphero will make this a recurring update to coincide with each new Star Wars film, but it wouldn’t be out of the question. For now, fans can experience the saga’s continuation in a whole new light, side-by-side with one of the movie’s top stars. The company’s BB-8 was already incredible, but now it’s even more of a must-have item.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now available on Blu-ray.
Source: Sphero (via Toyland)