Ollie is an app-controlled robot toy which is supposedly ‘driven by adrenaline’, and they weren’t kidding – this guy is fast (14mph fast)! Ollie is a fun little toy which is more intimate with your smartphone than any physical gadget I’ve tested before. He’s a perfect example of the ‘gamification’ of toys, and I think dads will absolutely love him this Father’s Day.
At a mere 80mm high and 110mm wide, Ollie is quite small. He’s also very light and portable so you can take him out and about. He has two rubber tyres on either side (which can be changed and customised), and a body in the middle which always stays upright. By connecting him to your smartphone via their dedicated app, you can control Ollie and send him flying around the room.
From my experience, Ollie definitely belongs outside rather than indoors. He’s so fast and nimble that I constantly found myself throwing him against every wall and obstacle in the room. Take him outside though, and it’s a completely different story. Ollie has a particularly high range of use (30m) which means you can see him doing loops and tricks all around you in a flash. He’s also very tough and durable, and driving him through rough terrain should be no problem at all. For my tests I visited a large span of land full of puddles and dirt, and he controlled beautifully across it. Flying over ramps and rough terrain is something none of my childhood RC cars could ever handle, but Ollie couldn’t get enough of it.
The Ollie app for iOS and Android is colourfully polished, responsive and simple. With a few taps I had my Ollie connected and away in no time. There are two control schemes you can use: the normal mode presents you with a circular, analogue-stick controller – push your thumb in a direction and Ollie follows. This controller is intuitive and quick to set up, but limits what Ollie can do. By turning your smartphone screen landscape you can activate trick mode, which uses your left thumb to complete swipe gestures, thus making Ollie perform tricks autonomously – swipe your thumb left and he does a 360° turn, pull it back towards you and he skids backwards.
Although the controls work well if you’re standing with Ollie in front of you, it can all go wrong when he veers behind you. The smartphone controls are user-centric, and rely on you standing in the same direction as you control Ollie; as soon as you turn, you may have to tap a button to re-align the analogue stick. The app makes this very easy and straightforward, but it can also get tedious after the first few tries. The Ollie SDK is available for developers, so I’m hoping that somebody tries a different take on Ollie’s controls in the future.
Ollie is a great toy for dads on Father’s day, and will provide a heap of fun for the whole family. Everyone can connect and take turns controlling him, and because he’s so small and light, he’s easy to take on a day out. As well as the main toy, you can also buy accessories and different tyres for a more customised appeal. At only £80, I feel that Ollie is excellent value for money and would make a fun gift for any dad. For more information on Ollie, check out the Sphero website or CLICK HERE to go there directly.