Sushi-Snarfing Barbie Uses Solenoid to Swallow

The view from America has long seen French women as synonymous with thin and/or beautiful. France is well-known for culinary skill and delights, and yet many of its female inhabitants seem to view eating heartily as passé. At a recent workshop devoted to creating DIY amusements, [Niklas Roy] and [Kati Hyyppä] built an electro-mechanical sushi-eating game starring Barbie, American icon of the feminine ideal. The goal of the game is to feed her well and inspire a happy relationship with food.

Built in just three days, J’ai faim! (translation: I’m hungry!) lets the player satiate Barbie one randomly lit piece of sushi at a time. Each piece has a companion LED mounted beneath the surface that’s connected in series to the one on the game board. Qualifying sushi are determined by a photocell strapped to the underside of Barbie’s tongue, which detects light from the hidden LED. Players must race against the clock to eat each piece, taking Barbie up the satisfaction meter from ‘starving’ to ‘well-fed’. Gobble an unlit piece, and the score goes down.

The game is controlled with a lovely pink lollipop of a joystick, which was the main inspiration for the game. Players move her head with left and right, and pull down to engage the solenoid that pushes her comically long tongue out of her button-nosed face. Barbie’s brain is an Arduino Uno, which also controls the stepper motor that moves her head.

[Niklas] and [Kati] wound up using cardboard end stops inside the box instead of trying to count the rapidly changing steps as she swivels around. The first motor they used was too weak to move her head. The second one worked, but the game’s popularity combined with the end stops did a number on the gears after a day or so. Click past the break to sink your teeth into the demo video.

Barbie can do more than teach young girls healthy eating habits. She can also teach them about cryptography.

15 thoughts on “Sushi-Snarfing Barbie Uses Solenoid to Swallow

  1. As long as a human body is eating a reduced carbo diet where some or even majority ketosis fat for fuel burning occurs and fat is not hoarded unburned as it is in an American style cheap carb-to-fat storage diet then hearty eating is not something a body even wants. Healthy is good, fat is good, unregulated cheap carbs become dangerous and make people want to binge, fat makes you feel full and is how the human body regulates normal healthy intake. Sure you can crave sugar treats but we need it like a itchy junkie forever needs just one last hit of horse.
    This project is cute but bypasses the issue of healthy and seems to substitute a binary just eat moar vs unhealthy anorexia.
    Food has to be approached as fuel first, just like you wouldn’t ever pump a few gallons of gasoline into the back seat of your car once the tank is full just because it sounds fun, also don’t gorge for broken cravings, eat for fuel. Of course feel free to choose the tastiest options from the fuel and nutrition needs you have identified. That is a truly healthy attitude towards food/fuel.

    1. To be fair food that is proper fuel not cheap carb junk is expensive and may not even be an option to the lower economic classes, this makes it easy to ridicule the poor for also being fat.

      1. Blaming dietary options is far too narrow of a perspective when there has been such a rapid anthropological change in our cultures. We all went from hunter/gathers who ably employed a cadre of varying diets .. to sitting here typing this useless reply on a website, from an air conditioned room prior to ordering delivered chicken and pineapple pizza before then lounging watching Better Call Saul. Cultures, not primarily food sources, shd be judged for how they acclimate to this change. When cultures judge their habits, the food demands alter to suit.

      2. Proper food “may not even be an option to the lower economic classes”. Not true, see Jack Monroe’s recipes (and many other people’s recipes for healthy and good eating with very limited budget). What is lacking is basic cooking skills and motivation.
        All that needs to be done is get rid of junk food outlets and advertising and encouraging good shopping and cooking practices. Yeah, no way that is going to happen – we are all doomed.
        [Niklas] and [Kati] did a brilliant job on that mechanotron – and in only three days (plus updates).

    2. Great now this Ketosis stuff is popping up on hackaday. Massive amounts of cholesterol are not good for you. Yes it’s a good idea to avoid simple carbs like refined starch and sugar, as well as fruit juice. But no, eating a ton of fat is not the answer.

    1. Interesting back story, As I understand it Bild Lilli was the German doll that inspired Barbie, The Bild Lilli doll was inspired by a cartoon in Bild magazine and was portrayed as a gold digging exhibitionist among other things, the early runs of the German doll were marketed to men as a sexy gag gift. Mattel bought all the rights and stopped making the Lilli doll as soon as Barbie became a hit to hide her not so clean cut history.

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