For the folks at Hackerloop, a collective of makers, tinkerers and engineers based in Paris, lots of things revolve around Nerf guns—and why not? There is a particular joy gained from shooting a friend with a foam projectile in the face. The Hackerloopers take this a step further though. Their Nerf guns are mounted on drones, robotic turrets—they’ve even rigged up a crazy one involving Google Glass. They’ve raised the bar with their latest Nerf creation, however: a bionic gun that can attach to an amputated or missing limb and be fired by muscle contraction.
Valentin Squirelo, co-founder of Hackerloop, said that the inspiration for the bionic nerf gun all came from a string of jokes involving a friend who had lost his hand. “It was too easy for us to win over him in Nerf battle,” he said in a Facebook Messenger conversation with Motherboard, half-jokingly.
While being competitive in a Nerf war probably isn’t the top of the priority list for those with amputations, Squirelo did point out that in all seriousness: “Being able to have fun with your friends with these wonderful toys is a real game-changer.” So he and his collaborators at Hackerloop set to work crafting a Nerf gun that could attach like a prosthetic hand to their friend’s arm, and that would also be able to fire on his command.
It works like this. When their friend contracts the muscles in his forearm, a DIY myoware sensor made with a little Arduino circuit board evaluates the amount of electrical activity generated in his body. Electromyography (EMG), as this process is called, measures muscle activation via electric potential. It’s historically been used in the medical field for research and diagnosing neuromuscular disorders, but the advance of electronics has led to an explosion of EMG circuits and sensors in the fields of prosthetics and robotics.
When the electricity in their friend’s arm goes over a certain threshold, the Nerf mechanism, which is connected to the sensor, pulls the trigger and fires off a foam round. When the electricity from muscle activity dips below that threshold, the Nerf gun goes silent. A video of Squirelo’s friend emptying a nerf clip from a prototype of his new Nerf gun hand is on Hackerloop’s Instagram and YouTube. They plan on revealing a more complete version of the bionic toy gun online in February.
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.