Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Meet Your New Friend, Blendie! 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Blendie, the blender with a mind of its own!It's a blender. It's sensitive and intelligent. It's a psychotherapist. It's MIT researcher Kelly Dobson's Blendie!
Blendie is an interactive, sensitive, intelligent, voice controlled blender with a mind of its own. Materials are a 1950’s Osterizer blender altered with custom made hardware and software for sound analysis and motor control.

People induce the blender to spin by sounding the sounds of its motor in action. A person may growl low pitch blender-like sounds to get it to spin slow (Blendie 2000 pitch and power matches the person) and the person can growl blender-style at higher pitches to speed up Blendie 2000. The experience for the participant is to speak the language of the machine and thus to more deeply understand and connect with the machine. The action may also bring about personal revelations in the participant, because in sounding with the blender one is likely to perform gesture and sound expressions not previously accessed which may open up hidden emotions or thoughts or feelings. The participant empathizes with Blendie 2000 and in this new approach to a domestic appliance fosters a more conscious and personally meaningful and responsible relationship with machines. And it is fun.

Machines influence self-conception, expression, social perception, and perception of responsibility or action. By accessing and vitalizing the interplay of people and machines through custom interaction design and psychotherapeutic techniques, a social awareness is brought out and individuals are invited to reinvent their own existence.
Some of Dobson's other inventions include Machine Therapy, and the Screambody, a "wearable body organ" that lets you scream into it at will, without incurring odd stares from passersby or risking a trip to the padded room:
ScreamBody is the first of the series of Wearable Body Organs. ScreamBody is a portable space for screaming. When a user needs to scream but is in anynumber of situations where it is just not permitted, ScreamBody silences the user’s screams so they may feel free to vocalize without fear of environmental retaliation, and at the same time records the scream for later release where, when, and how the user chooses.
I find all three creations quite amusing, because I myself used to hum along with the vacuum cleaner and washing machines when I was a kid...and see how I turned out. [via my friend James!]

The Blendie schematic diagram
A Blendie QuickTime movie