Adam Wilson, the co-founder of Sphero, is having a very good show at CES. There are mobs of people around the booth, craning their necks to see the toy version of BB-8 in action. Costumed stormtroopers are posing with a long line of people next to a life-sized BB-8. The company has one of the best toys on the market, tied into the biggest film ever in the United States.
"We are feeling ridiculously happy," Wilson told Polygon. "We're proud of what we built, we worked super hard to get here; it didn't just fall out of the sky. We worked really hard, and we're really proud that we actually made it exactly how we wanted to make it; we didn't sacrifice on the quality or anything we wanted to get out."
They're also not done, as the BB-8 toy is about to get a new version and a new accessory. "We're going to release the Force Band, which is a new way to control BB-8 through a wearable wristband," Wilson said. "That's also going to come paired with a battle deco BB-8 that looks like it came straight from Jakku."
The version of the toy that's out now looks like the droid just rolled off the production line, while the new look will be closer to how BB-8 appeared in the film. You'll also be able to pick up the Force Band on its own for your BB-8 if you already own the toy.
Moving controls of the droid from your phone to the Force Band is designed to give you more direct control over the toy. The Force Band will allow you to point to where you'd like BB-8 to go, and it will also follow you around. "It's a much better accelerometer and gyroscope," Wilson said. You can use the band to just move the head, and you can also control the speed by raising or lowering your hand.
"You can also point it back to yourself and it will come back to you. It's like feeling the Force, it will rumble when he bumps into things. There are also some hidden Easter Eggs, such as the ability to force choke BB-8 until his head pops off," Wilson explained.
Let's respect the fact that they built a way to kill BB-8 into the toy. You can now tap into your inner Kylo Ren. That's not the only secret, however. "There are all kinds of awesome things in there that you just have to get it to play with, and we have more features coming still," Wilson said. They haven't announced the price of the wristband yet, but it's aimed for fall of this year.
The company's plans for the toy will continue after these releases, as well. "We're also thinking about a system, like how to turn the BB-8 into a system of fun play that isn't just a controller."
I pressed for details, but they didn't want to announce much quite yet. "I'm not going to go too deep into that right now," Wilson said.