Who can resist talking about a bot that turfs zippers? I happened to find this post on Bits and Pieces of the Embedded Design World, which is rather appropriate given its tiny size. Named Zipperbot, this cute invention by Adam Whiton of MIT’s Personal Robots Group is ready to be a helper in your time of need. It falls under Whiton’s larger project name, Sartorial Robots.
Sartorial Robotics is a method of merging fashion theory and robotics through the design and development of robotic systems. These systems facilitate interaction and play as well as mimic the materiality, aesthetics, and construction techniques of textiles, apparel and fashion. This will enhance the social aspects of human-robotic interaction and assist in how we situate robotics in our lives and cultures.
Of course the real question is how it works.
Zipperbot uses optical sensors to properly mesh the zipper teeth and motion sensors to open and close at the right time. While Whiton doesn’t go into the details of how Zipperbot was built, it appears to be comprised of a zipper head, a stepper motor and two wires.
I think what is most interesting about this bot is the possibility of uses. Many people suffer from muscle disease, autism, arthritis or injured limbs. So, the act of putting on clothing every day could be greatly simplified. Also, if there are conditions where hazardous materials or clumsy gloves don’t allow touch, this bot could provide a means of opening and closing tents and protective gear.
When we think of robotics, it’s easy to get swept away by the idea of a walking and talking personal assistant. However, sometimes what is needed is an everyday hack. This little bot may not be helping repair modules in space, but it’s about to make many people’s lives easier. Considering many Asian countries are working on robots to assist their aging populations, this one seems to be a first step in what the world may eventually need.
Want to learn about robots? Why not start out with this little Zumo Robot. You just need an Arduino Uno or Leonardo to get this thing going (no assembly needed). Have fun playing with its sensors and make it play silly music as you push things around. Your cat is going to hate you.
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