Simone Giertz: A pat on the shoulder

The Proud Parent Machine

by Jo Brodie, Queen Mary University of London

A pat on the shoulder In lockdown, during the Covid-19 pandemic, inventor and roboticist Simone Giertz created a coin-operated ‘proud parent machine’ which, for 25 US cents, would pat her on the shoulder and give a few words of encouragement. Putting in a coin sent a signal to a microcontroller that turned a motor on which lowered a 3D-printed arm (to pat her shoulder), then played a pre-recorded audio file telling her how proud of her the automaton was. Making the machine involved skills in woodworking, computer-aided design, mechanics and electronics. She also gave a TED Talk called “Why you should make useless things”.

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This article was funded by UKRI, through Professor Ursula Martin’s grant EP/K040251/2 and grant EP/W033615/1.

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