A group of developers at Pheromone Lab recently ran into the problem of having to push a button 10,000 times: after building an iPad photography app for a client, they had to load test it to prove it would keep working after the nth use.
But as team member Jon Masse says on the Pheromone blog, “I mean, who really wants to sit and manually take 10,000 photos?”—so he and his colleagues built something that could do the photo-taking on its own. Basically, they made a robot finger. Using Lego bricks.
I’ve always thought that being the guy who builds stress-testing machines has got to be fun. One of the things that makes IKEA worth it (guess who just furnished a new apartment) is the series of little glassed-in museum exhibits showing off how they prove that their otherworldly flat-pack furniture will actually stand up to human use.
The machines often look like they have no relation whatsoever to the hands that will actually apply real-life stresses, and the idea of building some crazy setup that unexpectedly, exactly simulates a human motion is pretty fascinating. Pheromone’s post on the automatic button-pusher proves that I was right about it being fun: Masse gets positively gleeful as he describes the design process and the end results.
Cobbled together using a Lego Mindstorm kit and a couple of borrowed styluses, the grey-yellow-and-purple Lego structure sits on Masse’s desk, repeatedly propelling the styluses toward a stationary iPad. Of course, its merits as a timesaver may be undermined by how fun it is to watch a little plastic doohickey push buttons…