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    TechnologyThey create a living smartwatch that is powered by mold and is...

    They create a living smartwatch that is powered by mold and is inspired by the Tamagochi

    Researchers have recently created a smart watch powered by a living organismin an attempt to explore people’s relationship with their modern accessories, such as smart phones and watchesthat regularly they are discarded when a new model arrives.

    Inspired by the Tamagochia Japanese toy that became an international phenomenon during the 1990s, University of Chicago scientists created a unique type of smartwatch that it only worked if the living organism inside it was kept alive.

    The study conducted by the researchers argues that when these technologies break down or a newer model arrives in stores, many people rush to discard or replace their device without thinking twice. Is easy to get rid of causes an increase in electronic trashthe fastest growing category of waste, with 40 million tons generated each year.

    Jasmine Lu and Pedro Lopes, scientists at the University of Chicago, wondered if they could change that fickle relationship by bringing the devices to life, literally. Using the unicellular organism conductor of electricity known as slime mold, the researchers created a clock that only works when the organism is healthy, which requires the user to provide food and care.

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    Following, the Scientists verified how this live device affected the attitude of users towards technology, exchanging the usual one-way service for a mutually beneficial partnership.

    When talking about their experiences with regular smartwatches, Fitbits, or other wearable devices, people said they only used them for an explicit purpose. With this device, the relationship was more bidirectional, because they had to take care of it.. They also felt some kind of attachment to it, because it is alive, and they felt that they could not throw it away or just keep it in the closet”, explains Lu, a fourth-year student in the Human-Computer Integration Laboratory of Adjunct Professor Pedro Lopes.

    The watches were designed and built by Lu to tell time and measure the wearer’s heart rate. Nevertheless, the second function depends on the health and unique characteristics of the Physarum polycephaluma species of slime mold sometimes called “the blob” for its rapid growth, hardiness, and curious ability to solve mazes.

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    The organism is placed in an enclosure on the clock, and the user must feed it regularly with a mixture of water and oats to induce its growth. When the slime mold reaches the other side of the enclosure, it forms an electrical circuit that activates the heart rate monitor function.

    Once the clocks were built, Lu and Lopes conducted a study with five participants who wore the watch for two weeks. For the first week, users nursed the slime mold until heart rate monitoring was activated.

    Then, during the second week, the researchers asked the participants to stop feeding the organism, causing it to dry out and disrupt the heart rate function. Throughout the study, participants wrote in journals about their feelings about the device and answered interview questions.

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    the researchers found a high level of attachment to the watch, and some users stated that they felt it as a peteven naming it or asking their partner to feed it when they got sick.

    The participants in the experiment stated that the connection was more significant than with virtual pets like Tamagotchis or The Sims, which can be randomly reset upon death. Even more surprising was the emotional response when study participants were told to neglect the organism, expressing guilt or even pity.

    “People were scandalized; almost everyone was like, ‘Really? I have to do that?” Lopes said. “There were very human responses. Some people were sad, others felt the connection had been broken.”

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    Source: La Opinion

    Awutar
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