We found the rationale for this new research tool a little… hard to swallow… so sink your teeth into this press release and ruminate over it, yourselves:
Associate Professor Andrew Pullan at the Auckland Institute is mathematically modelling the muscles of the human face to reproduce jaw movement through muscle contraction, but requires information about the mechanics of the jaw muscles, the forces used in chewing and biting.
The Massey team is now engaged in the construction of the robotic jaw, which will provide comprehensive data of the forces and movements applied in the chewing of food…
For the purposes of food technology, the jaw will be especially useful in the study of the dynamics of texture changes in foods during chewing. Dr Bronlund says robotic testing of this type will be very valuable when combined with sensory food evaluation techniques. . In the future it is intended to teach the robot to adaptively chew food. It may be made to make its own decisions on how to chew a new food product. If it loses a tooth, it will adjust its motion accordingly and the data collected, of chewing force and jaw movement, will reflect the changed situation.
Research is a grind, isn’t it? (if we missed any puns, please let us know).
It bears mentioning, however, that by many accounts, the mechanical jaw was perfected in the late 70’s by agents of SPECTRE.
(hat tip: Engadget)