Tag Archives: MeArm

Making a wearable toothbrush machine with MeArm

Punch Through Design’s Simone Giertz has created a helmet that brushes your teeth. 

With seemingly everything around us becoming smarter, it was only a matter of time before your toothbrush became Internet-connected as well. Equipped with sensors, these accessories are now capable of detecting improper brushing habits, analyzing the healthiness of your teeth and ensuring that you’ve spent enough time cleaning. Despite how intelligent they’ve become, they still lack one major convenience factor: hands-free control. Perhaps that may all change after companies lay their eyes upon Simone Giertz’s latest creation.


The San Francisco-based Maker and Creative Technologist at Punch Through Design has developed a prototype of what she calls the Toothbrush Machine a clever combination of both a skateboard helmet and a MeArm. Whereas most MeArms are equipped with a claw, she replaced it with a toothbrush instead.

The system, which we covered on Bits & Pieces earlier this year, is powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) along with a servo shield and motor. As you can see from the GIF below, the Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor-like contraption features a robotic arm that drops down and precisely paces the bristles in front of the wearer’s teeth, as it begins scrubbing back and forth.


For those unfamiliar with the MeArm, the Arduino-compatible device is the brainchild of Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard, and was designed to be a simple and affordable way to put robotic arms into the reach of Makers. Essentially a shrunken-down version of ordinary industrial machines, the portable mechanism opens the doors to countless projects — clearly demonstrated by Giertz.

According to the Maker, the helmet was devised as part of a pilot episode for a kids TV show with hopes of teaching viewers about electronics by building more or less “useless robots.” It also serves as a great reminder that you don’t always have to take your projects too seriously. Regardless of how silly it may look, however, such an innovation could one day help those with impaired mobility regain their independence while providing tremendous oral hygiene benefits.


While you may not see your dentist or the ADA endorsing a product like this anytime soon, it’ll certainly be a conversation starter to say the least! And now, you can create one of your own by following Giertz’s step-by-step tutorial on Instructables.

Better yet, maybe MAKE: Magazine is onto something: why not take it step further and add a few extra arms for a Q-tips ear cleaner, a brush makeup applicator and a Gillette beard shaver.


Control a robotic arm with force-sensitive hand gestures

Maker manipulates a robotic arm with pressure-based hand gestures on the Sensel Morph. 

Ray Kampmeier recently finished a project that enabled him to manipulate a robotic arm using force-sensitive, five-finger hand gestures. To accomplish this, the self-proclaimed hobbyist employed a MeArm, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), four servo motors, and a servo shield to control the mechanism.


Sensel’s soon-to-be-released touch interface — the Morph — is used to command the robotic arm in four different ways: force down, rotation, pinch and forward/backward. For example, placing five contact points down and twisting the wrist will rotate the base, applying pressure on four fingertips will raise and lower the arm, while moving along its XY axes will extend and retract it. What’s more, Kampmeier reveals that pinching all five fingertips together on the center of the touchpad will cause its attached claw to close.


“Without the force sensitivity, I don’t think it would have been as magical of an experience for me to control the robot arm . It would have been a pretty binary detection of force — you have applied force and you have not-applied force. In this device, there’s a very robust range of force sensing. That level of control, and seeing that in the robot arm, gives a magical sense of feedback,” the Maker adds.

Intrigued? Kampmeier has made all of the code available on GitHub. While this may be a simple example of Sensel’s latest technology, it’ll certainly be exciting to see what the future has in store once the Maker community gets their hands on the interface. They won’t have to wait too long, as the Bay Area startup is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign at the end of August. Until then, watch the project in action below!

MeArm is a pocket-sized robotic arm for the masses

Developed by Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard, MeArm aims to bring a simple robotic arm well within the reach (and budget) of everyday educators, students, young Makers and parents alike.


The project — which recently made its Kickstarter debut — was conceived in order to make robotics, electronics and programing easier and more accessible to everyone. The ultimate goal? “To make something low-cost that you can build with nothing but a screwdriver and enthusiasm,” says Gray.

Powered by an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) or Uno (ATmega328), the MeArm is essentially a shrunken-down version of an ordinary industrial robot arm. The extremely portable, pocket-sized gizmo is also open-source, meaning that its entire design and code files are readily available for download so that Makers can view, update and learn from all of the work that has been put into the project thus far. As its Hackaday project log notes, there are already “well over 250 MeArms in the wild.”

According to its creators, it can be cut entirely from an A4 (or more accurately 300x200mm) sheet of acrylic and built with standard low-cost servo motors. In an effort to achieve its aforementioned “screwdriver and enthusiasm” goal, the team has unveiled a new platform they call MeBrain.


Based on an ATmega32U4 MCU — which is the same chip used in the Arduino Leonardo — the MeBrain’s two joysticks are responsible for commanding the MeArm. By simply plugging the robot arm into the board and the board into a power supply, Makers can control the robotic contraption as well as a few movements to play back.

“There are already some excellent code examples available for the MeBrain – provided by the amazing Bob Stone and there are even 30 tutorials to help you learn to code on the MeArm from one of our open source collaborators from Taiwan,” Gray notes.

Those interested in the easy-to-afford, even easier-to-use robotic arm should head on over to its official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking £5,000.