Touch Face, Lights Chase, Sirens Race

Let’s face it — people are gonna touch their faces. Sometimes faces itch, especially during allergy season. But the first step toward quitting something like that is to become cognizant of just how often you do it.

With a bracelet like this one from [Mauricio Martins], your face-touching frequency will quickly become apparent. Strap it to your favorite face-scratching arm and go about your day. The code constantly polls the accelerometer to see if your hand is in the vicinity of your visage. If so, red lights circle around and an emergency vehicle-type siren goes off to let everyone around you know you’ve sinned.

This no-touch-face bracelet is awesome because it’s simple and it works. It uses a Circuit Playground Express programmed in Make code, but it would be easy to port it to Arduino or CircuitPython. If you want to make something more elegant, we’re all for it, but you could be using this in the meantime to help condition yourself away from the habit. Check out the demo after the break.

Sometimes you gotta take a step back and make something that just works without getting all fancy. Did you hear the one about the astrophysicist who got magnets stuck up his nose trying to solve this very problem?

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Hassle-Free Classical Conditioning For Honey Bees

When you’re sick or have a headache, you tend to see things a bit differently. An ill-feeling human will display a cognitive bias and expect the world to punish them further. The same is true of honey bees. They are intelligent creatures that exhibit a variety of life skills, such as decision-making and learning.

It was proven back in 2011 that honey bees will make more pessimistic decisions after being shaken in a way that simulates an attack by varroa destructor mites. The bees were trained to associate a reward of sugar-water with a particular odor and to associate foul-tasting punishment water with another odor—that of formic acid, a common treatment against varroa mites. When a third stimulus created by mixing the two odors was presented, the experimenters found that the aggravated bees were more likely to expect the bad odor. Sure enough, they kept their tongues in their mouths when they smelled the third odor. All the bees that weren’t shaken looked forward to sucking down a bit of sugar-water.

So, how does one judge a honey bee’s response? Whenever their antennae come in contact with something appetizing, they stick out their proboscis involuntarily to have a taste. This is called proboscis extension reflex (PER), and it’s the ingrained, day-one behavior that leads them to suck the nectar out of flower blossoms and regurgitate it to make honey.

[LJohann] is a behavioral biologist who wanted to test the effects of varroa mite treatment on bee-havior by itself, without agitating the bees. He built a testing apparatus to pump odors toward bees and judge their response which is shown in a few brief demo videos after the break. This device enables [LJohann] to restrain a bee, tantalize its antennae with sucrose, and pump a stimulus odor at its face on the cue of an LED and piezo buzzer. A fan mounted behind the bee helps clear the air of the previous scents. We especially like the use of a servo to swing the tube in and out of the bee’s face between tests.

[LJohann] and his colleagues concluded that the varroa mite treatment by itself does not make the bees pessimistic. This is great news for concerned apiarists who might be skeptical about using formic acid in the fight against the honey bee’s worst predator. Check out the brief demo videos after the break.

Hackaday has long been abuzz about bees whether they produce honey or not. We’ve covered many kinds of sweet projects like intelligent hives, remote hive weight monitoring, and man-made bee nest alternatives. Continue reading “Hassle-Free Classical Conditioning For Honey Bees”

Free Yourself From Social Media With Classical Conditioning

pavlov

While [Robert] and [Dan] should be working on their dissertation, they found they actually spend a whole lot of time whiling away their days on Facebook and other social media sites. Taking inspiration from a Skinner box, they rigged up their computer to shock them every time they surfed on over to Facebook.

Their build uses the UI inspector in OS X and a Python script to activate an Arduino connected to one of those trick ‘shocking chewing gum’ pranks. The contacts for this shocker are attached to a keyboard wrist rest, providing a wonderful tingling sensation whenever the guys surf on over to Facebook.

Because shocks just aren’t extreme enough, [Robert] and [Dan] took their build one step further by invoking the wrath of Mechanical Turk users. They wrote a Python script to look at their UI inspector and submit a job to Mechanical Turk whenever they logged on to Facebook. The result is a random person being paid $1.40 to yell at [Robert] or [Dan] over the phone for wasting time on Facebook.

Video below, and be sure to like this post on Facebook.

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