Sphero BOLT Coding Robot

Sphero BOLT Coding Robot

Sphero
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

Meet the disco balls of programmable learning robot toys for kids. This little coding bots come with lots and lots of lights and sensors kids can program though an app on their phone, tablet, or computer. The Bolt comes with motor encoders, gyroscope, and accelerometer, an 8x8 light matrix, light sensors, infrared sensors, a magnetic compass, and even it's own protractor! Code it up in easy block-based coding or move up to javascript. It's enough to made the nerd in all of us happy.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

You can probably feel pretty safe playing with your kids playing with the BOLT coding robot at home. However, if your youngster uses Sphero Edu in school, your child's data is shared with teachers and with parents. This data may include recorded video or audio content, and text content.. That's likely not that big of a deal. However, it is something to consider, as we're seeing school and educational settings become an area of growing concern for how they protect—or don't—children's data.

While Sphero says they don’t share your “often”, they do have a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” form on their website. We could find no mention of them saying they don’t sell your data, so this could mean they might, unless you opt out. And they say they do share data with third parties for “online behavioral advertising” using data collected from places like social media. One other concern we found was the link they put on their privacy policy to learn more about parental controls doesn’t seem to work. Links break, so we’ll cut them some slack. Hopefully they’ll fix this soon after seeing our review.

Sphero does have some questionable data sharing practices that seem a bit concerning to us. There are other coding toys out there that seem to do better on that front. But, the benefits of you kid having tons of fun coding a little disco ball are something to consider. What’s the worst that could go wrong? Your kid could learn how to code while the teachers in your school learn a fair amount about your kid. Not the worst thing ever, but something to consider.

mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: No

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: No

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Sphero's website has Do Not Sell My Personal Information form. It means they might sell your personal data, if you do not fill in the form.

Sphero says, no user data is used for advertising, such as using cookies to display banner ads. At the same time, Sphero also says that they, and certain third parties operating through their Site, may engage in online behavioral advertising. This form of advertising includes third party data controllers, engaged in the processing of personal data in connection with advertising. Thus, Sphero gives seemingly contradictory statements regarding usage of your data for advertisement.

If you use Sphero Edu in school, they share data with teachers and with parents to make sure they can keep track of their children’s information. This data may include recorded video or audio content, and text content.

The toys may process data about the commands you give when you use audio or visual controls. The data is only processed on the toy or device in real-time. The company doesn’t store these inputs on its servers.

Sphero may collect usage data and social media data from you and provide it directly to a third party for targeting on a third party platform.

How can you control your data?

Sphero limits the information they collect from children using their toys, and gives parents control over their children’s information.

Unfortunately, we found that the "Learn more about parental controls >" link on their privacy page does not work. Hopefully they will see this and fix that quickly.

To the extent required by applicable law, you may request that they delete your Personal Data from their systems.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

No known incidents in the last 3 years. There was a report of a small security vulnerability in 2016.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

No

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Data is encrypted in transit and at rest where possible to ensure its safety.

Strong password

Not Applicable

The device pairs securely via Bluetooth, which does not require a password. Sphero Mini can be used with both Sphero Play (which has no user accounts and therefore no passwords) and Sphero Edu (which supports a variety of usage options ranging from no login up to integration with third party authentication services with their own password policies)

Security updates

Yes

Sphero pushes automatic updates to its devices and verifies the code to ensure it's authentic.

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Sphero has a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid. The company also performs regular security audits.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

No


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