Lenore Edman and her husband, Windell Oskay, had wanted to make a robot out of a brush for some time. Visiting hardware stores, they pushed brooms, scrub brushes and wire brushes along the floor to gauge movement and bristle stiffness.
Their “aha” moment came during a visit to the dentist. Handed free toothbrushes, Edman and Oskay smiled. The bristles were pliable. The nylon brush was cheap. And here was a brush that was soft but strong enough to motor.
They cut the toothbrush at its neck, affixed the head with a piece of double-sided tape, and placed a small battery and pager motor on top. Set loose on the floor, the BristleBot, as they called the bug-like brush, vibrated and zoomed to life.
Not long after, in December 2007, they posted an instructional BristleBot video on YouTube. Since then, the concept has inspired a book, “Invasion of the Bristlebots,” and the video has attracted more than 3.7 million views.
…”In recent times, they have helped create an accepted definition of open source hardware, participated in the annual Open Source Hardware Summit in New York, and are in the exploratory stages of building a foundation to support open source hardware.”