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Sphero bolt: Advanced Sphero with LED matrix display & light sensor!


The Bolt, Sphero‘s latest generation robot, is part toy, part teaching tool, and completely free of any Disney tie-in.

Sphero is returning to its roots with the Bolt. It packs in new innovation and a fresh focus on education – though it’s obviously still a toy at heart – after a succession of blockbuster releases using valuable franchises like Star Wars, Cars, and Spider-Man.

Price and availability

Price and availability

The Sphero bolt is currently available to order from for £189.99/$179. It is comparable to most of the other full-size Spheros. It’s also available from Apple, Amazon, John Lewis, Best Buy, and other retailers.

That’s a lot of money for a toy, so it’s only worthwhile if you expect your child – or yourself – to use it for a long time, which means truly getting into the instructional coding aspect of the device. It’s also reasonably priced in comparison to other robot toys on the market. The majority of which provide similar coding tools.


Sphero bolt: Advanced Sphero with LED matrix display & light sensor!

The hardware comes first. This looks a lot like the 2016 Sphero SPRK+. It’s a tennis ball-sized sphere that’s weighted to keep it upright while rolling around and made of transparent plastic so you can see all of the electronic insides at a glance.

This is partly to show off all of the Bolt’s many sensors and gizmos. But it’s also to take advantage of the main new feature: an 88-programmable LED light display. This can be used to display different colours, play animations, and even show scrolling text, giving your Bolt applications and games an additional layer.

There are two significant new sensors in the bolt, and that’s not the only new feature. The first is a light sensor. It allows you to write programs that react to light levels and perform specific actions in reaction to them, such as turning on the LED matrix when the room gets dark or animating a light meter on the display to monitor how bright it gets.
 A little clumsy and unreliable, but the business claims that, while the IR features will be limited initially, they will be considerably expanded over the next few months, with the goal of enabling complicated swarm robotics.

The Sphero bolt, like the SPRK+, is made to last and should be able to withstand a lot of knocks and bruises without any damage. It’s also waterproof and floats, so it may be used for a variety of aquatic activities.

Another significant enhancement is the battery. It charges inductively on a provided cradle. The same as previously, but now it should last roughly two hours on a single charge, making it easier to use for longer sessions or for teachers to use for several class groups on the same day.



The Sphero Bolt, like the original Sphero, is a nearly flawless transparent sphere filled full of sensors. The most noticeable difference between the Bolt and its predecessor is the inclusion of a bright 8×8 LED display. It may be used to display messages, and animations, change colours, or respond to input from onboard sensors. Because there are no speakers, the app is responsible for the sound.

The Bolt not only has a Bluetooth connection with your phone or tablet. It also has infrared communication, which means it can communicate with other Bolts, which may be interesting in the classroom. Sphero claims a five-meter range and the ability to play with up to five Bolts at once. It also features a light sensor that detects the presence of light.

Because the battery is larger, the play duration is longer than in prior versions. Roughly two hours between charges against one hour in previous models. The bundle includes a charging cradle.

The disadvantage is that a larger battery takes longer to charge. So while the playtime is twice as long as earlier Spheros, the charging time is also twice as long. A flat battery will take about six hours to fully charge.


Sphero bolt: Advanced Sphero with LED matrix display & light sensor!

The Sphero Edu app, which really is available for iOS, Android, and Amazon devices, is used to operate the Bolt. A desktop version is also available for PC, Mac, and Chrome.

Sphero Play, touch-based navigation and general fooling around the app, is also available in the various app stores. Parents beware: the Bolt has a Scream Drive mode that makes it move faster the louder your youngster yells or shouts at it. Swift Playgrounds also has two Sphero playgrounds to choose from Sphero Arcade and Sphero Template.

You can use Sphero Edu to try out other people’s codes or write your own. Coding is straightforward and comes in three flavours: Draw, where you draw the shape you wish your Bolt to follow; Blocks, where you use Scratch code blocks to generate a series of instructions; and Code, where you programme your spherical using JavaScript. On a mobile device, though, it’s a little more difficult: Blocks is a lot easier to use on a phone.

It’s worth noting that if you use the desktop app, you won’t be able to execute apps directly from it. To control your Bolt, you’ll need to access them in the mobile app that’s connected to it, then save them to the library and then open them on your tablet or phone.


Sphero Bolt: Software

You get three games to play in addition to driving the Sphero about, most of which will be recognisable from previous Sphero gadgets. A top-down spacecraft shooter, an obstacle-based runner, and a game in which you must spin barriers to keep a ball bouncing between them are all included.

The games are entertaining enough, and they make advantage of the new LED matrix to display animations and change colours as you play, but they won’t keep you entertained for long. This is where the Edu app may help.

The Bolt’s true heart is the Edu app, which includes everything you’ll need to create your own mini-programs with the device. The app has been available for a while, but it’s getting a makeover this week to take advantage of the Bolt’s new features, including a new side-by-side mode that allows you to see both activity instructions and your programme on the same screen.

The Edu app allows you use the Bolt’s matrix, light sensor, and IR sensor to activate spinning, movement, LEDs, noises, and more, down to the smallest detail.

One thing to note is that, unlike some competitors, the Edu app doesn’t offer much to introduce young users to the concepts of block-based programming, and there isn’t a clear, structured series of courses to work through. As a result, the Bolt is best suited as a coding tool to kids (and adults) who have already grasped the basics and want to use the Sphero to explore more advanced choices.

Is it possible to use Sphero bolts in water?

Yes! BOLT is water-resistant and ready to go on an adventure in the water.

Is there a camera on the Sphero BOLT?

Because the Bolt lacks its own speaker or camera, any coding that requires audio or a camera will be executed by your linked device.

What’s the difference between the Sphero BOLT and the regular Sphero?

Students may programme the Sphero to move using a variety of apps. The Sphero BOLT is the newest addition to the Sphero line. It incorporates all of the capabilities of the SPRK+ plus a dazzling LED matrix and improved sensors for tracking speed, acceleration, and directions.


The Sphero Bolt is brilliantly engineered, extremely creative, and a lot of fun, and it’s evident that it’ll be a very useful tool in the classroom. However, if you’re thinking about getting one for your home, it seems like a lot of money for something that’s sure to scream obscenities as it slams into your ankles.

The LED matrix provides a plethora of more expressive alternatives, while the IR sensor has the potential to develop it into a sophisticated multiplayer option, albeit in its early stages.

The price remains the stumbling block, as it always has been. It’s difficult to say that £189.99/$195.00 is expensive, but it is. Although there isn’t enough toy here to justify the price, the Bolt provides a level of depth that no other Sphero – and few of the company’s competitors – can equal for anyone interested in studying the Edu app’s block-based coding.

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