How to use the Force Band with BB-8

Our guide to Sphero's BB-8 and Force Band set up, charging and features
How to use the Force Band with BB-8

There's no doubt Star Wars is bigger than ever thanks to JJ Abrams latest venture into the universe. The new trailers for Rogue One look just as appealing and we're sure all this buzz will grow in time.

Whether it's love for the current film or the past entries, it's clear fans love their space merch making Sphero's BB-8 a killer piece for collectors. The fact that the little robot can be controlled with a Force Band wearable now is the icing on the Star Wars cake.

Keep in mind, the Force Band isn't your average wearable - it's still a kid's toy. Don't expect it to do more like count steps or monitor heart rate. Still, it takes some time to get used to wielding the Force and you're guaranteed to run BB-8 into the walls more than usual.

Must read: How Sphero made the coolest connected toys of the year

But don't fret, padowans - here's how to use your Force Band with BB-8, along with some other features Sphero made available.

The Force Band is availble to pick up on 30 September along with a matte, 'dirty' looking BB-8 for $199.99. If you've already got yourself last year's version of BB-8, you can pick up the Force Band alone for $79.99.

Force Band: Initial set up


As expected, the Force Band is simple to wear and easily adjustable with the velcro strap. You really only have to adjust it once since taking the wristband on and off requires unclasping a simple magnet.

The band itself is very light and feels pretty fragile but I was assured it was made to withstand the might of children. I had the same reservations about BB-8, especially the antenna but apparently you can get a replacement for about $15. However Sphero says its also a durable robot and can handle the wall crashes.

Charging the Force Band and BB-8 requires a microUSB cable which you can find in the box or with any Android and Android Wear device (they're basically a dime a dozen).

From the Special Edition box - there's a metal tin to easily transport BB-8 - you'll find that the little bot comes with its own charging stand. Plug everything in and charge up both BB-8 and the Band. They'll both make noises in the process which is all part of the fun.

While these are going, you can download the companion app. At the time of our Sphero briefing, there was only an app for iOS as Android version wasn't quite finished yet. But Sphero co-founder Adam Wilson assured us it should be soon.

Luckily you don't need the app to use either device - rather it's an extra for the other features but more on that later.

The BB-8 and Force Band shouldn't take too long to charge up - about 10-15 minutes since they're already a little juiced up. After about three hours of usage though, it will take a little longer - likely 30-45 minutes.

To wear the Force Band, the microUSB port should be facing you and not outwards.

How to use the Force Band

There are three ways to use the Force Band: Controlling BB-8, training and finding Holocrons. With only one button to press, you also can't go wrong using the wristband.

Press it once and you'll hear the band prompt you with "Choose your activity." From there you can keep pressing the button to select the activity you want, where the last press will power down the Force Band and mute it. Bonus tip: To actually select the activity, you don't keep pressing - rather you tap once, then wait (i.e. don't button mash).

To exit a menu option, just hold down the button until the haptics kick in and you hear the 'Obi Wan Kenobi' voice prompts again.

How to control your droid

This is how you control BB-8 with the Force Band. You'll have to hold the robot up to your wrist for the wearable to connect via Bluetooth LE. Once it syncs up, the lights will turn blue inside BB, then its adorable head will start to swivel once you move your arm.

Similar to how you'd calibrate the robot with a mobile device, you must make sure the blue light is facing you. Place BB-8 on the floor then swivel your arm to turn the robot and the light. Press the button again once the light is in place.

From there, move your arm up and push out (for the 'Force push'). A series of BB-8 sounds and haptics will kick in on the Force Band. Raising your arm higher will push BB faster, while lowering your arm will make it slow down. Putting your arm all the way down will stop the bot completely. BB-8 will change directions when you move your arm left and right.

To make BB-8 roll towards you for a 'Force pull,' turn your arm with the Force Band facing away from your face. Then pull your arm in quickly and you'll get the same effect with BB rolling to you where a higher arm makes it go faster and lowering, slower. You'll have to remember to use the opposite movements to turn BB-8's direction as well.


How to train with your droid

With the second button press, Obi will say, "Your combat training has begun." This one is pretty straightforward. Choose a weapon or ship icon, or Holocron, from your app then move your arm around to get the accompanying sounds. Simple. But also pretty fun since you can pretend to use a lightsaber or Chewie's Bowcaster - or even X-Wings and TIE Fighters. But you'll have to work for the whole roster of sounds, which is detailed in the next section.

How to use force awareness

Choosing the third option where Obi says, "Your Force awareness training has begun" is how you collect weapon and ship sounds to train with your droid. There are common, uncommon and legendary Holocrons. You'll also need the app here to see what you've collected. After opening the app, move your arm around to turn the box on the screen so the icon is facing you.

In the meantime, you're basically waiting for Obi to say something about a Holocron nearby, which is when you start moving your arm out in front of you to find it. The stronger the haptic buzzing, the closer you are to 'catching' the Holocron. Wilson says there aren't any above or below you, rather holding your arm straight out and moving it left, right and behind you are how you'll find your prices. As Obi says, "Patience, you must learn patience."


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