TechCrunch posted today about 11 new startup companies to be funded by TechStars, a group that has provided seed money and mentorship for various startup companies for the last four years. Most of these companies seem to lead towards different web services, but GearBox is a "smart toy company" who have created a robotic ball which can be controlled via a smartphone using a simple API.

How this all works is summarized in a recent GearBox blog post:

So basically how HTC/Android/Apple make smart phones, we make smart toys. Our first smart toy is a robotic ball that you can move by tilting your phone in the direction you want the ball to roll. We are then leveraging the connectivity and computing power of the phone to create a fully interactive experience for the user. Our first app for the ball is Sumo. I throw my ball on a table, you throws yours on the table and then we can try and sumo each others ball off the table. However, while our physical balls are moving there is also an onscreen component with online stats, profiles, damage, powerups and other aspects of gameplay that aren’t possible with a regular remote control toy. For instance, when the balls collide they can sustain “damage” and roll slower or I could get a powerup to reverse your controls for a few seconds.

Other examples cited were a golf game where you swipe to "hit" the ball, curling where you roll the ball then "brush" on the screen, or even just control the ball to harass your cat. Currently all of the app development is being done on Android, but according to the guys at GearBox, iPhone development is totally possible and they're just using Android for prototyping. The Smart Ball is still in prototype phases itself, and it's hard to say when it will be available for sale. Either way, it seems that the Parrot AR.Drone isn't going to be the only toy in town to be controlled via a smartphone.

  • starmonkey101

    yaa.... but it's just a ball.... going less than a mile per hour.... (and as it looks) with the person controlling having to be within x number of feet, where x is REALLY CLOSE...

    front page worthy...?

    • Kamazar

      I'd say it is. Sure, it's going pretty slow, but it could probably be ramped up. If you're ball and iPhone are on the same WiFi connection, you can do away with distance limit. It's not huge news, but it's interesting.

  • starmonkey101

    yaa.... but it's just a ball.... going less than a mile per hour.... (and as it looks) with the person controlling having to be within x number of feet, where x is REALLY CLOSE...

    front page worthy...?

    • Kamazar

      I'd say it is. Sure, it's going pretty slow, but it could probably be ramped up. If you're ball and iPhone are on the same WiFi connection, you can do away with distance limit. It's not huge news, but it's interesting.

  • Yrogerg212

    I have a dumb question... What is an API?

  • Yrogerg212

    I have a dumb question... What is an API?

  • Philly

    This is a heck of a lot cooler than the Parrot drone, IMHO.

    • Adams Immersive

      If it flies and has a camera then yes :)

      I want to see AR.Drone vs. Smart Ball games!

    • Alex.B

      You're joking right?

  • Philly

    This is a heck of a lot cooler than the Parrot drone, IMHO.

    • Adams Immersive

      If it flies and has a camera then yes :)

      I want to see AR.Drone vs. Smart Ball games!

    • Alex.B

      You're joking right?

  • Miggz

    "Tired of Rolling Virtual Balls With Your iPhone? GearBox Invites You to Roll a Real Ball." Really, how about the cool virtual worlds where you roll a ball around on the iPhone, not some dusty crappy real floor.....boring.

    Next...

  • Miggz

    "Tired of Rolling Virtual Balls With Your iPhone? GearBox Invites You to Roll a Real Ball." Really, how about the cool virtual worlds where you roll a ball around on the iPhone, not some dusty crappy real floor.....boring.

    Next...

  • Miggz

    Updated:
    Well...maybe a cool overpriced cat toy....nah.

    Next...

  • Miggz

    Updated:
    Well...maybe a cool overpriced cat toy....nah.

    Next...

  • Miggz

    Watched it again...ROFLMAO...that dude does not look like he's having any kindd of fun....

    Next...

  • Miggz

    Watched it again...ROFLMAO...that dude does not look like he's having any kindd of fun....

    Next...

  • http://www.ummband.com poutini

    it could be awesome if it moved faster.

  • http://www.ummband.com poutini

    it could be awesome if it moved faster.

  • http://www.fx4boutique.com BikiniBabe

    Ok, I'm almost sold. How much is it and when's it available?

  • http://www.fx4boutique.com BikiniBabe

    Ok, I'm almost sold. How much is it and when's it available?

  • Will090

    I think it actually looks pretty cool. If it is inexpensive I'll definetely pick it up.

  • Will090

    I think it actually looks pretty cool. If it is inexpensive I'll definetely pick it up.

  • Jgrug

    It's a start I would love to see more phone controlled devices come to market. Who knows where it may lead.

  • Jgrug

    It's a start I would love to see more phone controlled devices come to market. Who knows where it may lead.

  • http://www.unrealphd.com UnrealPHD Game Studio

    That is an amazing concept. We would like to work with them. We program and design, and there are so many neat things that can be done.

  • http://www.unrealphd.com UnrealPHD Game Studio

    That is an amazing concept. We would like to work with them. We program and design, and there are so many neat things that can be done.

  • Matt

    I'll buy one if they make it less than 30 bucks and make it go about 10 times faster than that. Considering that was just a prototype I'm sure the final version will be much faster.

  • Matt

    I'll buy one if they make it less than 30 bucks and make it go about 10 times faster than that. Considering that was just a prototype I'm sure the final version will be much faster.

  • Schubertz

    I hope they scrap the whole ball concept and go straight for a racing car with a front camera, that would compete better with the parrot drone in my opinion.

  • Schubertz

    I hope they scrap the whole ball concept and go straight for a racing car with a front camera, that would compete better with the parrot drone in my opinion.

  • Schubertz

    Or a tank, which would be more suited for a game but more complicated to develop games for, I guess.

  • Schubertz

    Or a tank, which would be more suited for a game but more complicated to develop games for, I guess.

  • Christian Bale

    The Gearbox Ball will retail for... 599 us dollars 599 us dollars 599 us dollars 599 us dollars.

  • Christian Bale

    The Gearbox Ball will retail for... 599 us dollars 599 us dollars 599 us dollars 599 us dollars.

  • Venalin

    This is sorta odd. . . I can't see this taking off, BUT I think more capable variations of this could become an interesting (and relatively successful) addition to gaming on iOS

  • Venalin

    This is sorta odd. . . I can't see this taking off, BUT I think more capable variations of this could become an interesting (and relatively successful) addition to gaming on iOS

  • Miggz

    They have to remember, there are RC mini vehicles out there for under $30..including helicopters....so a 'ball' for any more then that seems kind of wacky...even if the mechanics are more complex...it's still just a ball, a slow ball.

  • Miggz

    They have to remember, there are RC mini vehicles out there for under $30..including helicopters....so a 'ball' for any more then that seems kind of wacky...even if the mechanics are more complex...it's still just a ball, a slow ball.

  • http://www.twitter.com/diontelove Deonta

    looks cool, I'd buy one for 15-20 bucks

  • http://www.twitter.com/diontelove Deonta

    looks cool, I'd buy one for 15-20 bucks

  • http://www.cellphonedock.net Adalberto Lirette

    hey adminstrator , i w/ u idea.

  • http://www.cellphonedock.net Adalberto Lirette

    hey adminstrator , i w/ u idea.