Rolly Spins Its Way Stateside

Often times, when people say the word “gadget” they are referring to tech devices that are cool to look at or play with but would never classify as necessities. While the microwave and TV could be seen as must-owns, no one would ever say that about an electric umbrella or LED wallpaper. Another new gadget that fits this perception to near perfection is Sony’s Rolly(TM) Sound Entertainment Player.

Rolly, which has created quiet a stir in Tokyo, can be seen as perhaps the quintessential non-essential gadget. Basically, it’s an MP3 player that dances. People who don’t like bells and whistles on their technology products should avoid Rolly at all costs. While Sony refers to the player as “an expression of your personality and how you hear your music”, the player is actually just one flashy bell and whistle. That being said, it’s a pretty darn entertaining one. The small, egg-shaped device plays music like a typical MP3 player, but, as it does, it rolls, spins and flaps its “arms” to the music. The movements seem nearly effortless and they are completely in sync with whatever song is playing.

A product of Sony’s work in the fields of both audio equipment and artificial intelligence, Rolly incorporates quite a bit of advanced technology (as it probably should with a $400 price tag). Unlike most MP3 players, Rolly is not just for use with headphones. The player has 180-degree speakers on each side designed to reverberate sound from surfaces it is placed on, and it is also equipped with a built-in digital amplifier that allows for high output with minimal power. Rolly supports both MP3 and AAC files, and includes 2 GB of flash memory for storing songs. The device’s internal battery can play up to 5 hours of continuous music, or play music and dance nonstop for up to 4 hours. The player also features a number of advanced controls a person needs to learn – like sliding a finger along an edge to control volume or shaking the player a few times to turn on shuffle mode.

As for the robotic aspect, the device features a simple, wireless design that makes its movements seem all the more smooth and graceful. When it dances, Rolly uses six different moving parts, including “arms”, “shoulders” and wheels. Choreographer software allows Rolly to automatically hear a song and customize motions based on the music playing. Individuals also can plug Rolly into a computer through a USB port and use the software to create different routines for Rolly to break into whenever certain songs play. Created dance moves or routines can even be uploaded to (or downloaded from) the Internet. The player comes ready to dance out of the box, which is good because people will want to see it in action right away.

While it’s easy to dismiss Rolly as a completely unnecessary product, after watching it wiggle around for a couple minutes it’s really tough to take your eyes away. With glowing blue lights and complex movements, Rolly is the type of gadget science-fiction films twenty years ago imagined would be sitting on coffee tables everywhere today for no real reason other than to look “futuristic”. And certainly it does. The sheer cool factor of the device reminds us that technology doesn’t always have to serve a life-changing – or even practical – purpose. Sometimes it just needs to make us grin and dance.

The Rolly Sound Entertainment Players is currently available for purchase from sonystyle stores for $399.99, and consumers have the option of getting their Rolly engraved at no additional charge.


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