We meant to report about this back in December, but this DIY project has fallen under our radar, probably for a good reason: it is just plain silly. Corey Menscher is an obsessive father-to-be who is instituting a strict reporting regiment on his developing fetus. The tinkerer has built a wireless device that can send messages when the baby is kicking and turning inside. Corey has decided to link the device with Twitter, effectively creating a Morse like messaging system from a different world, and making his child the youngest blogger ever. The system is good enough to produce a mass hysteria among blogs, but not good enough to detect fetal movements for two weeks at a time, for example between Dec 22 and Jan 2, as the project page at Twitter shows.
From the Kickbee project page:
As a baby grows inside the womb, pregnant mothers are constantly and acutely aware of its presence mostly through its movements. With the Kickbee, I intend to extend a baby’s minute contact with the world beyond the mother’s body by sensing these movements and transmitting them to digital networks.
As an expectant father, I am once-removed from the physical knowledge my wife has of our baby and its development. With the Kickbee, I wanted to create a device that would give me a chance to be aware of our baby’s movements. It can also aid in tracking the frequency of fetal movements, which is an important way to monitor the health of the developing child.
The Kickbee is a wearable device made of a stretchable band and embedded electronics and sensors. Piezo sensors are attached directly to the band, and transmit small but detectable voltages when triggered by movement underneath. An Arduino Mini microcontroller transmits the signals to an accompanying Java application wirelessly via Bluetooth. (a SparkFun BlueSMIRF v2 module that communicates serially with a Macbook Pro.) The band and electronics are covered in a soft fleece cover for comfort. Note: the final version presented at the ITP Winter Show 2008 used XBee radios for better stability and to prevent interference from the hundreds of bluetooth cell phones in the vicinity.
The Java application receives the sensor values and analyzes them. When a kick event is detected, a Twitter message is posted via the Twitter API. I chose to use Twitter because it is easy to initiate an SMS message to any mobile phone when a kick is detected. It also acts as a data log that can be accessed programmatically for visualization or archiving.