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N/A Kickbee being worn Kickbee being worn Ellen wearing the Kickbee Corey & Ellen with the Kickbee Sample SMS Messages from Kickbee Kickbee Twitter feed Piezo sensor and LED (no cover) Kickbee Kickbee


Kickbee has a new home!
Go to http://kickbee.net for news and information about the Kickbee and its development.
Kickbee is a part of a larger project entitled The Honeycomb, which focuses on connecting parents who are physically separated. The project was completed for my NYU Graduate Thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). Please check out the entire project at http://portfolio.menscher.com/itp/honeycomb

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.

There’s something special about pregnant women’s bellies that make so many want to touch them. The presence of a child inside the womb is mysterious because we only have visual clues to its presence. Yet we know that if we press our hand and wait patiently, we may be greeted with a physical manifestation of its existence by feeling the baby’s subtle (and not so subtle) movements inside.

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 whose base is a stretchable spandex band. Piezo sensors are attached directly to the band, and transmit small but detectable voltages when triggered by movement underneath. An Arduino Mini microcontroller filters and analyzes the movement and 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. An updated version presented at the ITP Winter Show 2008 uses 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.

Kickbee on Facebook

12/13/2008 – Kickbee has been getting a lot of internet attention, and I’ve responded to some comments I’ve been reading on my blog.

12/20/2008 – After a week of press and attention, I’ve made some additional comments and observations on my blog.

Kickbee Press:

June 19, 2009 – Twittering from the Womb – MomLogic.com

May 6, 2009 – My Thesis Presentation on The Kickbee and The Honeycomb

April 27, 2009 – “New Device Twitters Baby Kicks” – Reuters TV

April 16, 2009 – ABC’s Good Morning America piece on “Tweeting During Surgery”

April 14, 2008 Edition of the New York Times – Putting Twitter’s World to Use

PBS Frontline: Digital Nation website – “Kickbee”: texting from the belly (YouTube link to video)

Twitter CEO Evan Williams references Kickbee in his TED 2009 talk

NYC WPIX News Video (also aired on CNN) – Kickbee: Fetal Kick Detector

NY Daily News – “Twittering from the womb: How soon is too soon to ‘tweet’?”

Daily Mail UK – “‘I kicked mummy at 11.38’: Pregnancy belt allows unborn babies to open Facebook ‘chat-womb'”

The Telegraph UK – “Babies in the womb to record kicks on Facebook”

The Sun – “Baby’s message from the womb”

BoingBoing – “Youngest Twitterer Evar”

MAKE blog – “Kickbee: Twitter from the Womb”

Gizmodo – “Kickbee: Now the world can know what your fetus is up to”

Engadget – “@kickbee OMG, this Twitter / baby-tracking hack is so great. Keep on kicking mommy!”

Hakaday.com – baby twitters via kicks

Geek.com – “Device allows babies to Twitter from the womb”

designboom – “Twitter Baby”

Talk2MyShirt.com – “Interactive maternity clothing – Kickbee”

Corporeality.net – “Kickbee – what’s the point?”