How Star Wars’ BB-8 Put This Robotics Company on the Map

May 4, 2017

7:00 pm

In 2014 Sphero, a robotics company based in Boulder, Colorado, didn’t realize that their efforts would be majorly boosted by a fictional robot from a galaxy far, far away. But one of their mentors was Disney CEO Bob Iger, which meant that their company came to mind when Bob needed to bring the robot BB-8 to life as a toy prior to the release of the biggest blockbuster of the 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

They produced the app-enabled BB-8 by Sphero, which sold out within 24 hours of hitting Amazon and retail shelves across the world.

The Impact: “Transformational”

Tech.Co has featured Sphero as early as 2011, when the company was one of our featured startups at the SXSW Accelerator Kickoff, and we’ve even interviewed them in the past. But in honor of May the fourth, a.k.a. Star Wars day, I grabbed a quick conversation with Sphero cofounder Adam Wilson. Here’s what he said on the impact of their Disney deal, and what the future holds.

“Our team created the App-Enabled BB-8 by Sphero which launched in September of 2015,” Adam told me, “and we followed that with the release of our Battle Worn BB-8 and Force Band.

“The partnership was transformational to our business on many levels. Working with Disney had a tremendous impact how our team developed products – they are the best at bringing characters to life on screen and our team can now infuse personality into robotics in the same light.

Additionally, we now have a team of more than 170 with offices in Boulder, Colo., the UK and Hong Kong.”

Read how humanoid robots could pave the way to Mars

Sphero Has More on the Way

So does the robotics startup have plans for future Star Wars tie-in toys? Here’s all Adam had to give me:

“While I cannot comment on specifics relating to what’s coming next, I can tell you that Sphero is releasing five new products this year. You’ll have to wait and see!”

Hey, as long as their new products are half as cute as a tiny, whistling, roly-poly android, they can’t help but succeed.

Love Star Wars? Us too. Head over to Tech.Co for Star Wars gadgets

Photo courtesy of Sphero & Disney

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He’s based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state’s slogan: “sayWA.” In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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