Hey fellas, have you ever fantasized about being Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior? No? Well, if you change your mind, try the Mommy Tummy, a computerized pregnancy simulator built by Japanese researchers. It's like hiring David Cronenberg to be your obstetrician!
The device uses warm water and balloons to simulate having a wriggling fetus all up in you. Researchers will be presenting the Mommy Tummy at the Siggraph conference in Vancouver this August. Here's their synopsis of the project:
A user wearing the Mommy Tummy jacket can feel the fetus's temperature, movement, and heartbeat, and, by rubbing the jacket, communicate with the fetus. Within a few minutes, the jacket's weight and size change, simulating fetal growth over nine months. An auxiliary screen displays the condition of both the fetus and the mother in each simulated month with a 3D model of the fetus. The moods and activity of the fetus are displayed in a natural manner to simulate normal fetal development.
There are two types of fetal movement: kicking and wiggling. Achieving a kicking simulation is not so difficult, but wiggling simulation is not simple. It was achieved by using a technique inspired by the tactile funneling illusion (PhS) initially discovered by Georg von Bekesy as a type of illusory tactile sensation that arises between two points of simultaneous vibration or electric stimulation. Using PhS, Mommy Tummy simulates a wiggling sensation through continuous, temporally displaced operation of multiple air actuators.
Click to view Furthermore, if you leap about, your "baby" will get angry and thrash (and presumably sucker punch your kidneys, just like a real fetus). Stroking your fake tummy will placate the baby. The longer video you see above is actually the Mommy Tummy Mark I. Click on the box at left to see the Mark II variety (via New Scientist), which includes even more balloons for greater robo-baby twitching.