Kickstarting Your Very Own Cyborg: The RoboRoach

Backyard Brains Roboroach

Everyone hates Hank Pym for building Ultron, but anyone who’s ever faced an insect infestation can appreciate the desire to control bugs’ movement. And, while lots of people talk a good game about putting mind-control devices into household pests, who out there is really doing anything about it?

Good news is at hand: Backyard Brains, a company that offers hands-on electrophysiology kits for learners of all ages, has launched a Kickstarter today for The RoboRoach, which they’re billing as the “world’s first commercially available cyborg.” It is a kit that lets you control a cockroach from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone after, of course, a bit of surgery. On the bug, not you.

Here’s the pitch:

The device tricks the roach into thinking that there’s a wall to one side, causing it to turn in the direction you want it to go, although, as the Backyard Brains people point out, it’ll figure out what’s up sooner or later, and stop responding.

Actual RoboRoach kits start at $100, and you only get living cockroaches at the $150 or $250 levels. Otherwise, you get instructions on where to get ‘em.

You can see Backyard Brains’s Greg Gage in a variety of TED formats–including an upcoming TED Global talk on Wednesday afternoon–but I particularly like this one of him showing kids how electrical signals make neurons fire (more here):

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