This smart punching bag lets you fight cancer, jab by jab

With this interactive punching bag, everyone can step in the ring and join the fight against cancer.

When a loved one is battling cancer, it’s easy to feel powerless as if you are nothing but a helpless bystander. This inspired the idea for a recent project from Thijs Biersteker. The creative designer, in collaboration with digital production company MediaMonks, teamed up with Dutch nonprofit organization Fight Cancer to create the world’s first punchable computer as an interactive way to raise funds for cancer research. The hope is that the smart punching bag will travel from gym to gym across the Netherlands, enabling everyone to step into the ring and join their loved ones in the fight.


The first-of-its-kind installation is made of a punchable screen embedded with motion sensors, shock detectors and over four thousand LEDs. Accelerometers detect the strength of each blow, gyroscopes record the trajectory, and impact sensors register the location of every strike. This information is then processed and pushed to the bag’s display, while direct audio feedback is emitted through a built-in speaker. What’s more, the piezo network is controlled by an ATmega328.

On its exterior, multi-colored lights serve as a representation of “cancer cells.” After you punch in (no pun intended) a few basic facts about yourself, such as sex, age and lifestyle (from healthy to unhealthy), the bag loads up a customized game that correlates to your own risk of cancer. It’s then your job to give them the good ol’ KO.


When force is applied, the punching bag illuminates a heatmap visualizing the impact of your jab or uppercut. Through interactive animations, the unit symbolically reveals the rate at which cancer can grow, while allowing people to do something by donating directly to Fight Cancer’s cause, punch by punch.

“I’m not a doctor or a scientific genius, so when a loved one becomes ill, I feel like a bystander. With this interactive punching bag you can really join them in their fight by stepping in the ring and punch cancer in the cells, raising funds for cancer research punch by punch,” creator Thijs Biersteker explains.

This is another prime example how the DIY community, smart technology and a little ingenuity can ‘make’ a difference. Inspired? Head over to the project’s official page here.


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