Control a Star Wars droid with your iPhone, you will

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Roly-poly new Star Wars droid BB-8 is impossibly cute. Photo: Lucasfilm
Roly-poly new Star Wars droid BB-8 is impossibly cute. Photo: Lucasfilm

Soon you’ll be able to control the cute new robotic star of Star Wars: The Force Awakens with your iPhone.

The toy version of BB-8, the droid with an R2-D2-style head perched precariously atop a rolling round body, will pop up in Disney stores later this year. While pricing isn’t yet known for the Star Wars toy, it will be made by Sphero, whose roly-poly robotic toy caught the eye of Disney chief Robert Iger.

The droid seen rolling through the space desert and peeking around a corner in the first two trailers for The Force Awakens was controlled by a puppeteer.

“You would see this guy pushing BB-8 around, actually controlling BB-8, but he gets the equivalent of airbrushed out,” Iger told The New York Times.

But Iger was impressed by the $129 Sphero, and the toy gave him an idea for bringing BB-8 to toy shelves — and to Disney theme parks. He contacted the Sphero team and they whipped up a prototype and Iger was sold.

BB-8: Star Wars’ new star

The baseball-size BB-8 toy should be a hit with kids, but an much larger (life-size?) version brought down the house at the Star Wars Celebration last week when it rolled onto the stage during a panel discussion. (This is the size BB-8 that will greet visitors to Disney theme parks.)

It was a magical moment that left many people wondering, “How in the world did they pull that off?”

In fact, a hacker inspired by the droid’s star turn at the fan convention made his own DIY version of BB-8 — also using a Sphero, a couple of magnets and some paint.

“As I watched it roll around my only thought was, ‘Need!'” wrote Christian Poulsen on the Make website. “So I made one.”

You can see Poulsen’s DIY BB-8 in the video below (and get instructions for making your own BB-8 from Make). If you want to wait and buy a BB-8 toy from Sphero, you can sign up now to get information on the project as it becomes available.