[Corey Menscher] built the Kickbee while attending ITP this Fall. It monitors his pregnant wife’s belly and updates Twitter, a microblogging service, every time the baby kicks. The device makes everyone aware of the baby’s movement, not just the expectant mother. It can also log the baby’s activity to monitor development. The sensors are piezos held in place with an elastic band. They’re connected to an Arduino Mini which connects to a host computer using a BlueSMIRF bluetooth module. The host Mac does the logging and twittering.
Scientists at the University of Reading have created a robot that runs not on microprocessors, but on brain cells extracted from a rat fetus. The robot is equipped with several sensors which stimulate the rat neurons whenever the robot approaches a wall; the response of the neurons then determines whether the robot avoids the wall or crashes into it. The truly fascinating bit is that the rat brain cells don’t automatically know how to respond to the stimuli from the sensors, but instead learn to respond appropriately through repeated stimuli.
No word yet on whether the scientists will teach the robot to sing “Despite all my rage / I am still just a brain in a vat”.