Roboroach vs Teen Titans


Although the Cyborg in Teen Titans has far more abilities than Roboroach, the roach will be the first real cyborg available on the commercial market.

How many kids have watched Teen Titans and wished they were a Cyborg or owned one?

The Cyborg in Teen Titan is a fictional character created after an accident severely damaged his body parts which were replaced with cybermetics to keep him alive.

The Roboroach, which is real, is created by attaching a backpack with wireless controlled electrostimulators to the back of a roach with two electrodes inserted into the bug’s antennae. The Roboroach comes with an iPhone app that controls the roach with a simple swipe, left or right.

The creators of Roboroach, a Michigan based team at BackyardBrains, introduced the cyborg Monday on a Kickstarter page attempting to raise $10,000 for the project.  The premise of the project is to educate people about the brain and how it works.

How do you create a cyborg roach?  Well, you order the kit which costs approximately $100 and follow the directions.  Now according to the directions, a minor surgery has to be performed on the roach to connect the electrodes into the bug’s antennae and anesthesia is needed. Not sure if this is provided in the kit.  Doing it without it could be seen as cruel and inhumane treatment of an insect.

Animal rights activist may have a problem with this creation, but according to the BackyardBrain team, the technique, called microstimulation, does not cause any discomfort to the roach and the cyborg roach may become immune to it over a period of time.

The technology used to create Roboroach manipulates the antennae which the roach uses to physically sense the environment.  The backpack attached to Roboroach sends a signal to the antennae and the cyborg roach senses that it is bumping into a wall and turns.

As mentioned earlier, unlike the Cyborg on Teen Titans, the Roboroach can only be stimulated to react to a few commands, so do not expect a super cyborg roach.  Also the BarkyardBrain team said the automatic fear response that is noticeable in roaches appears to vanish with the use of the backpack commands.

It appears that the Canadians and Europeans have a fictional character called Ruben “Rube” Roach, a cyborg super hero of a fictional town called Vexberg.  Rube jumps into an electrical outlet and is changed into a Roboroach.  Not quite the way the American Roboroach is created, but like Rube it does get electrical stimulation. So will the real Roboroach please stand?  It appears that the U.S. has the authentic cyborg roach.

BackyardBrain’s creation will give kids and college students the opportunity to do neurostimulation experiments.  The kits will ship by November.  If you want a cyborg under the tree for Christmas, the time to order is now.

Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo are the founders of BackyardBrain a startup in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Like Robin Hood took from the rich to give to the poor, they are taking multimillion dollar neuroscience experiments from university labs, compacting them into kits, and making them available to the public.

While Teen Titans’ Cyborg was fictional and could do much more, Roboroach is real and can teach children, using hands on experience, about creating a cyborg and neuroscience.

By: Veverly Edwards

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