Sphero – breaking the boundaries between work and play

If you were at the Health XL hackathon a LAB-14, you might have seen Developer Steve with an awesome little toy robot called Sphero. I instantly fell in love with this neat little product and somehow thought about doing it for my university presentation.

Sphero SPRK Edition by Orbotics, released in 2015
Sphero SPRK Edition by Orbotics, released in 2015

I gave my presentation to my Science Communication class this afternoon followed by a lineup of students wanting to test it out.

Read my pitch below, followed by comments and structure of a good pitch.

Hello all and welcome to the future. But before we go into the future, let’s take a quick look at the past. Do you remember the days when your Mum told you to stop playing video games and do your homework? Or put away your toys and read your books? Well I’m here today to change that mindset… to share with you how work and play are being integrated in a fun way with some pretty sweet tech. Meet Sphero, the playful robot that makes learning fun.

This little guy was originally created by a couple of devs who wanted to control real world objects with their smartphones. It’s pretty simple, double tap the ball, fire up the app on your phone and way you go. Teachers in the US recognised the learning potential of these robots, and introduced them to their classes, including maths, physics and even art and language. Orbotics, the producer of Sphero, caught on pretty quick and decided to open their code. Sphero’s OVAL, a C-based language code, enabled teachers to program the robots for their specific uses.

They weren’t just a hit with the teachers though. Kids of all ages began enjoying Sphero. The market exploded and as more kids played and coded with them, Orbotics decided to target learning environments. They released this edition, a SPRK (short for Students, Parents, Robots, Kids), encased with a clear polycarbonate protective shell to bring you closer to the robotic action. Orbotics also released Sphero Education, a fully programmable drag and drop coding platform aimed to bring the basics of code to all.

The mission of Sphero; break down boundaries of play to teach the leaders of tomorrow. Orbotis identified that coding will become as important as reading and writing. A study in America demonstrated that the majority of kids want to be computer programmers and software developers. We need to equip these kids with the vitals tools they need to achieve their dreams. But it’s not just about the kids. Anyone who wants to learn code can do so with Sphero.

Like most awesome tech developments, Sphero has broken into the social sphere with the Sphero Community. Here, you can download others’ code or share your own, further highlighting the collaborative nature of teaching. Orbotics encourages people to break the rules around learning, to “fire up the imagination” and being exploring robotics, programming and tonnes more.

Orbotics hopes to inspire a love of robotics, coding and STEM in our future’s inventors and innovators. Whether you are tired of boring old toys, want to inject some new creativity and energy in your workplace or you’re someone who just HAS to have the latest technology, grab yourself a SPRK and start learning the language of tomorrow, today.

Firstly, this pitch paints a picture. It creates a scenario which everyone can relate to, drawing on the emotional nature of people. My presentation quickly gets to the point of my pitch – a new way of thinking about work and play and a robot that makes this possible.

Throughout my pitch I refer to the history of Sphero as well as draw on key products they’ve created; OVAL, SPRK, Sphero Education and Sphero Community. By highlighting the range of products, it cements Sphero’s traction and mission. I also draw on the idea of creative learning and play as it is not only a the philosophy of Sphero, but rapidly being integrated into our teaching systems.

Finally, I end the pitch with a call to action. If you don’t call your audience to do something, then your pitch will fall on deaf ears. Whether you want someone to buy a product, invest in your idea or simply think a different way, you need to explicitly state this. If people don’t have to guess what you want them to do, you will find more stuff just happens.

I hope you learnt something from this pitch, and hopefully I might have a review of the Ollie coming soon (stay tuned).

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