At this point, Sphero has nearly become synonymous with Star Wars. The Boulder, Colorado-based company initially made a name for itself with a medley of rolling, remote-controlled robots, namely a miniature BB-8 and R2-D2, both of which the company has said it will no longer produce due to licensing. In their stead, however, Sphero is branching out into an entirely new segment of consumer tech: Music.
At CES 2019, the company showcased Specdrums, a set of connected rings that let you harness sound using colors and surfaces of your own choosing, as well as a companion app available for Android and iOS devices. The kit — a result of Sphero’s recent acquisition of Specdrums — uses light sensors embedded in each ring to identify colors, which you can then pair with specific sounds. Once you tap the Bluetooth-enabled ring against the surface again, whether it be a picture frame or your pants, it will trigger the corresponding sound on your mobile device.
The appeal of Specdrums, aside from the kit’s ability to generate sounds using your surroundings, is its sheer level of flexibility. The apt-titled companion app, Mix, features an assortment of customizable sounds built on a variety of different instruments and loops, though, you can also connect to GarageBand, Ableton Live, and other music-making apps via Bluetooth MIDI. Specdrums will even ship with a Play Pad, a keyboard-like device that utilizes colors instead of traditional keys.
“We firmly believe that play is a powerful teacher. With the addition of Specdrums, we are strengthening the ‘A’ in STEAM in our product roadmap,” Sphero CEO Paul Berberian said in a statement. “With Sphero’s infrastructure and the groundwork that the Specdrums founders have already completed, we believe there’s a huge opportunity to continue to inspire curiosity in classrooms and beyond.”
The rebranded Specdrums will go on sale beginning Monday, January 7, and begin shipping a week later. You’ll be able to buy a single ring for $65 or a pair for $99, each of which will afford you two hours of play time.