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Controlling a Cockroach With Your Phone

Controlling a Cockroach With Your Phone

‘Roboroaches’ available for all

robot, cockroach, insect, roboroach, controll, move, turn, phone, backyard brains

You attach a backpack to a living insect and then slide your finger on your smartphone screen to make it walk in any direction you choose. The technique is already out there, and not just for mad scientists. Very soon controlling an insect will be possible for anyone.

Really cool or ethically wrong? Until now at least 152 people think there’s nothing one with neurologically controlling cockroaches: they backed up the project on the funding website Kickstarter and donated 9.479 dollars to help the project succeed. With 15 days left to reach the required 10.000 dollars, the roboroaches are very likely to indeed go commercial.

The project is launched by Backyard Brains, a startup company of scientists and engineers. In order to move the insect around they use the antennas of the cockroaches. Cockroaches usually make a turn whenever one of their antennas hits a wall.

The little backpack hacks this natural system and makes people control the signals that the antennas give off.  A touch on a bluetooth smartphone now causes the insect to avoid imaginable things in its way.

The same technique is used in treating Parkinson’s disease and that is how Backyard Brains try to ethically justify their project. It’s not a toy, they say, but a tool to learn how brains work. By trying to change the way neuroscience and engineering is being taught, they want to start a ‘neurorevolution’.

Photo: Flickr, ruinsenior

backyard brain, robot cockroaches, robot cockroach

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