This creepy robot baby is here to show parents just what their children crawl in around the home
It should come as no surprise that the rugs and carpets in your home are host to a huge amount of dust, dirt and allergens. Walking over them kicks up clouds of the stuff, but we hardly notice it as the ground is so far from our nose and mouth.
For a baby, however, it could pose a potential health risk and so a group of scientists has set out to uncover just how bad crawling is for a typical baby in an everyday home.
As a starter, the US and Finnish researchers needed a baby they could move across a dirty carpet in air-controlled conditions. Needless to say, it’s rather unethical do use a real baby, so the researchers built one incredibly creepy robot instead – which I will now pepper this story with pictures of.
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Despite its unsettling nature, due to just how uncanny its crawling appears, the robot made its way across five pieces of carpet donated by Helsinki residents and partook in 25 crawling experiments in the process. The robot baby, which was bizarrely wrapped in tin foil for a worrying amount of time during the test, captured particles for testing from a range of air sensors attached to its body.
To ensure there was data to compare to, the team also equipped an adult in bodysuit and filter mask to perform the same walking experiments under the same conditions. The research team was interested in seeing if a baby’s small frame was as capable of kicking up dust and dirt as effectively as a human adult.
“We used state-of-the-art aerosol instrumentation to track the biological particles floating in the air around the infant in real-time, second by second” explained the lead researcher Brandon Boor of Purdue University.
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The team’s research found that, per kilogram of body mass, babies inhale four times the amount of particles kicked up from a carpet compared to that of an adult. “They really create this concentrated cloud of microbes around themselves as they crawl,” Boor continued.
Before you run and wrap your baby in a protective bubble, though, or remove all carpets and rugs from your home, this microbe cloud isn’t as bad for your baby as you fear. “Many studies have shown that inhalation exposure to microbes and allergen-carrying particles in that portion of life plays a significant role in both the development of, and protection from, asthma and allergic diseases.”
It’s a long-held belief that, by exposing ourselves and children to friendly microbes, we actually improve our immune systems. It is a slight wonder why the research team felt the need to investigate something that would only fuel worry around just how clean our houses are for babies, but at least they decided to gift the world an unsettling robot baby for the purpose.