Get ready for Christmas in September: The iconic BB-8 droid from the new "Star Wars" movie is getting his own toy Friday, and the little Jawa in your life is definitely going to want one.
The home version of BB-8, created by toymaker Sphero, is controlled by a smartphone app. It rolls around just like the little droid in the movie trailers -- you can manually move it, or you can set it to a "patrol mode" and let it navigate on its own. It costs $149.99.
That's definitely not cheap. BB-8 fits in the palm of your hand and will probably remind you of a classic Tyco R/C car. There are a few features beyond rolling around -- an augmented reality setting makes it look like the droid is projecting a holographic video when you view it through your smartphone's camera, for example -- but the core functionality is pretty simple.
Sphero's okay with that. The idea isn't to offer a toy that does a million different things: It just needs to do one thing really well.
Think about how droids behave in the "Star Wars" franchise: They're companions to the main characters. R2-D2 unlocks doors, delivers messages, helps Luke Skywalker pilot his X-Wing and so on. C-3PO nags and speaks Bocce. Robert Maigret, the chief creative officer of Sphero, told The Huffington Post in a recent interview that the BB-8 toy could help people get comfortable with having robotic companions in their homes.
"They're going to be our friends, our companions, our helpers," Maigret said.
He's right: Companies like Honda are already working to develop robots that can aid the elderly and communicate via sign language.
Admittedly, BB-8 won't do much beyond put a smile on your face -- but maybe that's the first step toward accepting more advanced robots into our lives.
Just be careful with it around your dog. Vanity Fair discovered that it kind of freaks puppies out, as this awesome video shows:
For more information about Sphero's BB-8 toy, visit the company's website.