Sphero Darkside has wired-in weirdness

Impish app-toy might go its own way. That's just how it rolls.

Sphero Ollie Darkside

Gawds save us. Not another “ker-azy” Bluetooth speaker?

Aw, remember the Sony Rolly? The little flashing and flapping music player was mad and bad… and yet absolutely fascinating. Beautiful plasticky catnip to gadgeteers like us. Anyway, this is Darkside. It’s not a Bluetooth speaker. It’s a gothic makeover for the original blue-and-white Ollie, itself a high-speed version of the original spherical Sphero robot toy. All of which are controlled via an app on your phone and can spin, race, jump and stunt with rugged aplomb. With us, so far?

Sphero Ollie Darkside

Nope. But I think you’re saying that this is just a new colour of an old toy?

Yes, and no. The makers have apparently given this new version a malevolent personality to go with its Sith Lord coat. “Mischievous autonomous behaviour” is how the website describes it. “We’ve reached a point in technology where robots should have a point of view. They should play back with us.” That's Sphero man Rob Maigret’s take. Our thoughts? "Little bleeder better recognise, else it's heading bin-wards, stat." But we haven't actually tried it yet.

Sphero Ollie Darkside

Sphero Ollie (2014)

What, so sometimes it won’t do what you tell it?

Charming, eh? And you having paid more for it than its friendly blue brother, too. But you do get some pimpage for your extra outlay – interchangeable “Nubby” off-road tyres and “Turbo” slick tyres, as well as different hub styles. You can run it without any tyres if you want to drift it like a dark-side-of-the-Force Ken Block. And, if you’re still not sure about the £100 asking price at Firebox, here’s some Instagram shorts of a Ollie Darkside luring some blue Ollies (and their human operators) into a trap.

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