Kickstarting a Bluetooth-controlled cyborg cockroach

Alan sez, "Who wouldn't want their very own cyborg roach? And who wouldn't want to be able to control that cyborg from their mobile? Fund this Kickstarter and maybe you can. The robo-roach - manufactured in a hackerspace, like you do - is intended to serve as a high school science experiment. However, if you think that's what most people are going to use it for then you have not met nearly as many fratboys and office pranksters as I have."

The backpack we invented communicates directly to the neurons via small electrical pulses. The cockroach undergoes a short surgery (under anesthesia) in which wires are placed inside the antenna. Once it recovers, a backpack is temporarily placed on it’s back.

When you send the command from your mobile phone, the backpack sends pulses to the antenna, which causes the neurons to fire, which causes the roach to think there is a wall on one side. The result? The roach turns! Microstimulation is the same neurotechnology that is used to treat Parkinson’s Disease and is also used in Cochlear Implants.

The RoboRoach: Control a living insect from your smartphone! (Thanks, Alan!)


      1. I did watch the video,  My comment was just to point out it seems a little sadistic th glue a remote control onto a living being.

  1. Perhaps I’m responding this way because someone is firing my neurons without my permission, but that misplaced apostrophe (“it’s”) makes me skeptical about they entire project. Sorry.

    1. As much as grocers’ apostrophes shit me to tears, I see very little correlation between a mastery of written English and the likelihood of success of such a project.

      Also, it behoves Spell Nazis to proofread and edit their posts if necessary.

      …makes me skeptical about they entire project.

      : p

      1. I must publicly admire you for the commendable and comfortablly-read mixture of “shit me to tears” and “behoves”.

        Two more distant extremes of linguistic mores are hard to imagine.  Beautifully put.

      2.  Skeptical is a proper American/Canadian spelling, and we spell behoves behooves. So there.

  2. If you got a couple of thousand of them and painted them Red White and Blue.

    And dumped them out and controlled their movements to “Stars and Stripes For Ever” and have them form American Flags and Statue of  Liberty and other Icons.
    That would be pretty cool.

  3. Awesome project, it is good to see hackerspace work that touches the biological realm. 

      1. There’s a great lack of empathy in this cruel world; perhaps we shouldn’t discourage it even where it might be ill-placed  (and/or those that can torture bugs with a grin might become inured against the suffering of something that can suffer)

        1. Well, yeah, except I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call this torture, IMO.

          I’d certainly disapprove of treating any vertebrate or cephalopod etc like this just for shits and giggles, but I think it’s pretty safe to say insects are fair game.

          Alien little bastards. Fuck em.

          In fact, we should start eating billions of em like the Asians, most vegetarians included. Grasshoppers are meant to be pretty tasty.

          1. of course you’re drawing an arbitrary distinction between insects and the rest of the animals. besides, what makes you think people who do this wouldn’t happily move on to other species?

            eating them would serve a purpose; this serves none other than sadism.

          2.  I’d be interested to know why you disapprove of treating vertebrates or cephalopod like this.

        1.  Do you have a sling? One of Cory’s steampunk masks…because I might be in.

          /I kid..I Kid.

    1. It’s not like I don’t stomp on cockroaches if I encounter them, but yeah, being cruel to a living animal is unconscionable.  I’m surprised BoingBoing is presenting this in a supportive way.

      1.  This. Killing a cockroach outright is one thing. Manipulating one in this way isn’t just mistreating animals, it’s *teaching* kids to mistreat animals.

  4. Scientific Research ™ is one thing, but I don’t think I could support kickstarting a project whose creator seemingly holds such little reverence for life.

    1. I have had a chance to sit in on some of the classes that used their hardware, I was amazed at the level of engagement the students had.

      I am fine if a few cockroaches don’t have the best outcome if it means helping inspire the next generation to further our understanding of how the brain works.

      1. The enthusiasm of scientists for a line of research is no indicator whatsoever of that project’s morality.

        And what specific knowledge do you think that this grotesque exercise will further, that couldn’t be obtained without torturing the roaches?

        Oh right: the knowledge of how to cyber control and torment other animals, including humans for the military. (With bonus desensitization!)


      2.  To be honest, these cocks probably are living the roach equivalent of campaign wishes and caviar dreams. With the exception of having to wear a funny hat that keeps moving the walls around. I bet it’s not that bad.

  5. Cockroaches may or may not experience pain, I don’t know. In some cases, such as research towards curing disease, under strict ethical oversight, there can be a case made for experimenting on living creatures.
    But as a scientist, the idea of doing this to a living creature for fucking entertainment disgusts me.  

      1. Yeah- it pretty much consists of, “We think this is useful. We’re sorry you’re uncomfortable with our violations of autonomy and principles of assuming sentience and practicing kindness. Nobody is forcing you to participate.” At least they acknowledge that people are uncomfortable and attempt to engage a discussion. 

  6. I seem to be the only one thinking “cyborg cockroach? Why do we need to make cockroaches even more indestructible?!”

    1. Another century and the roaches will be laughing at the ruins of our civilization. Them and Cher.

  7. This is cruel and impractical. With great power comes great responsibility. Not liking a living thing does not give you the moral authority to take over its body and manipulate it for your amusement. 

     BoingBoing, please redact. 

  8. This is amoral, inhumane and abhorrent.  Why is it that we presume dominion over every single companion, however great or infinitesimal – indeed, every inch of matter – which we encounter?  What makes us more equal than the others?

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