Revealed at Mobile World Congress, the LG Rolling Bot should look familiar if you've seen anything remotely Star Wars recently. It looks just like a little BB-8. Though there's an app controlled BB-8 toy from company Sphero, the LG Rolling Bot isn't a toy - not entirely anyway.
Called a "companion device" by LG, the little guy rolls along the floor and is able to capture images and videos with an 8MP camera. The IP camera can sync up with Wi-Fi to let you remotely monitor your home when you're at work or vacation via a live streaming function that will let you see what's happening in real time from your phone.
There's also a charging bay the Bot will roll into, similar to iRobot's Roomba vacuums. The Bot I demoed was a prototype but LG expects that it to launch in later April, a bit after the other MWC devices that were announced.
The bot can connect to other home devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and anything with infrared. LG reps didn't describe exactly everything it could do but they said it should be able to let you remotely do whatever you want as long as the devices can "talk" to each other - like temperature control, turning on lights and so forth.
Like the LG 360 VR, only the LG G5 will work with the Bot at first, though other handsets have been promised down the line. From the G5, you can view whatever the robot sees and remote control it with a directional pad on the left that will move it forwards and backwards and one on the right that will alternate where the camera is facing by turning it.
I was able to get the hang of the controls easily enough though I noticed it was harder for the Bot to go forwards than backwards. It tended to stutter before slowly moving along forward, while pressing the back button had it zipping by smoothly. It also took a minute to figure out turning if I wanted it to go in a different direction. The camera feed worked well enough but I was in the same room as it rolled around so more testing will be needed before we can deliver a full verdict.
In terms of the Rolling Bot's toy functions, it's more for pets than for children (or adults). There's a mode on the app called "Pet" that will turn the robot into a pet's dream come true - or nightmare - as it will spin around and shoot out lasers. You can also talk to your dog or cat through a mic that's installed inside.
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It was still surprisingly fun to drive the Bot around and I can see myself using it to spy on my dog or check on the house. Despite the minor snags turning, the LG Rolling Bot is both a fun and functional little "toy" that I'd love to have around.
The fact that it's touted as a connected home device adds to the appeal since it provides a little more than simply playing with a pet. If LG has truly made the Bot as useful as it claims to be, and if priced right, I can see it flying off the shelves as a much cooler BB-8.