What’s that rolling on the rug, swimming in the river and playing tag with the dog? Is it a 3-D Pacman, a robot or your imagination? It’s Sphero, pretty much a combination of all the above, a product by Orbotix of Boulder, Colorado and brainchild of Ian Bernstein. He’s the CTO and Co-Founder and Sphero is the company’s first product; it’s been selling well.
Unique to Sphero is that you operate it from a downloaded app to your mobile device, and Sphero is only the beginning of the incredibly imaginative robots which will be coming out of Orbotix. This new type of gaming is deemed “mixed reality” according to Ian, blurring the line between virtual reality and the physical world. The company has a large and impressive team and Ian credits being part of TechStars 2010 for a big boost. “The mentoring network there is extremely helpful,” he adds, “and LinkedIn has been incredibly resourceful” Also, just talking with other Founders of consumer electronics companies has made a big difference in their success..
A huge hurdle has been the mechanical issues involved. One iteration of the Sphero made static electricity when it moved, interrupting the blue-tooth connection. And then there’s the consumer. You have to think of “everything people could possibly do to a thing in order to make it last,” he states regarding the durability built into their products.
But it’s stimulating and enjoyable work for the inventor. “I have a lot of fun. I just got back from China (where the product is currently manufactured); I love travelling.” Look for Ian to have a lot more fun as he and the team roll out more of their imagination.