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Gadgets

Sphero lets you have a ball with your smart phone

Sphero's a clever little robot ball that can control the path of its roll through the use of a gyroscope, accelerometer and compass.

Sphero is a ball with a difference. While most balls are passive, merely reacting to the way you kick/throw/hit them, this one's actually a clever little robot that can control the path of its roll through the use of a gyroscope, accelerometer and compass. And you can tell it exactly where to go (well, as long as you have an iOS or Android device).

Sphero works with the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, the iPod touch, the iPad, and any Android device running version 2.2 or above.

There are currently six Sphero-related apps available. Sphero Drive, for instance, lets you steer the ball using an on-screen joystick or by tilting your phone or tablet -- the makers suggest you build a course and race other Spheros.

Sphero Draw N' Drive, meanwhile, takes a different approach to controlling the ball: use your finger to draw a path on your device's touchscreen, and Sphero will follow that path in the real world.

It's pretty impressive on the tech front. As well as the aforementioned gyro, accelerometer and compass, there's LED lighting inside the ball, enabling you to change the colour of its inner glow. And the battery charges via cable-free induction -- you simply rest your Sphero on the charging base. The ball can travel at speeds of up to 1m per second, and can be controlled to a range of around 15m (it uses Bluetooth to talk to your phone or tablet).

If you think Sphero sounds like a ball (sorry) and you're already envisioning chasing the cat around your living room floor with it, we're afraid you'll have to wait until 2012 -- you can 'register your interest' on the Sphero website. Lucky US-dwellers will be able to buy the gizmo from next month, and it'll set them back $130 (around £80 in real money). What do you think? Bowl us a comment or have a spin on our Facebook or Google+ pages.