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Researchers Create Vomiting Robot To Analyze Contagions

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the upset-metal-stomach dept.

Medicine 65

iComp points out an interesting project in Derbyshire, northern England. "Bioboffins at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, UK, have developed a robot that can projectile vomit on command as a tool for studying the spread of the highly infectious norovirus. Reuters reports that the hyperemetic droid has been dubbed 'Vomiting Larry' by its creator, researcher Catherine Makison, who describes it as a 'humanoid simulated vomiting system.' The goal of said vomiting system is to study the reach and dispersion of human vomitus, which is one of the primary ways that diseases such as norovirus can spread. Norovirus is a fairly common viral infection that is sometimes known as the 'winter vomiting bug' due to its increased prevalence in the colder months. Outbreaks are generally triggered when humans ingest contaminated food or water, but can continue when subsequent people come in contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the initial patient's effluvium."

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Also useful for studying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472293)

.... how quickly the zombie plague will be spread amongst the world population. Now we just need a 'headshot' robot to practice with...

Re:Also useful for studying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472313)

.... how quickly the zombie plague will be spread amongst the world population. Now we just need a 'headshot' robot to practice with...

Hehe this silly bastard regurgitated one of the memes of the day hurry up now and mod him +5 Funny before he gets discouraged.

Re:Also useful for studying (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42472421)

After his comment, the sales of regurgitating robots exponentially increased.

Re:Also useful for studying (1)

pollarda (632730) | about 2 years ago | (#42472515)

Since toy guns are now a major taboo, I think that a Vomiting Larry should be part of every kids playground arsenal.

Oh, great... (4, Funny)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#42472307)

"Two bots and a cup."

Re:Oh, great... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42473535)

Except that the girls used chocolate ice-cream, whereas the robots use (produce...) strawberry...

Just what I always wanted: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#42472359)

a Puke-A-Tron 5000

Old News (2, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 2 years ago | (#42472371)

We already have a vomiting robot. Every time my buddy mixes beer and wine, he turns into the ReTardis. We call him that because, based on production, he has to be larger inside than outside.

More like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472431)

Buffoons at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, UK"

Maybe I should brush up on my British slang.

SONY patent RFID in CDROMS - markofthebeasttech (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472447)

TLDR: Mark of the Beast contender (RFID) makes way to CDROMS as method to communicate with hardware.
Examining Sony's Internet-free method for blocking used game sales

New patent filing describes using RFID chips to tie games to a single user.

by Kyle Orland - Jan 3, 2013 5:55 pm UTC


"A newly published patent application filed by Sony outlines a content protection system that would use small RFID chips embedded on game discs to prevent used games from being played on its systems, all without requiring an online connection. Filed in September and still awaiting approval from the US Patent Office, the patent application[1] for an "electronic content processing system, electronic content processing method, package of electronic content, and use permission apparatus" describes a system "that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets."

[1] [www][dot]freepatentsonline[dot][com]/y2013/0007892[dot][html]

Used game sales continue to be a major concern for many big-name publishers and developers, who see the practice as a drain on the revenue they earn from selling new software. Sony's patent explicitly points out that suppressing the used game market will "[support] the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers."

The used-game blocking method described in the patent involves a "radiofrequency tag" and a type of programmable ROM chip that are paired with each game disc and can communicate wirelessly with the game system. The tag and chip can be used to store "unique information" about each console the game has been played on. Thus, when the game is used on a second system, the unique information stored on the disc can be compared to the information stored inside the new hardware, and in turn checked against "use permission" data stored on the EEPROM chip itself. As described in the patent, this "unique information" could be a system identifier or some sort of unique user ID that is somewhat portable between systems.

The patent describes users being asked to "pass the use permission tag over the RF reader/writer," suggesting some sort of near-field communication (NFC) area on the system itself that is used to launch this confirmation process. The patent also describes the RFID tag being used to decrypt content on the disc, which could provide a method for locking certain on-disc content to certain users who have unlocked or paid for the privilege. The system would theoretically also make game discs much harder to pirate, since illicit copiers would have to include correctly configured security chips in their copies, rather than using off the shelf media.

Of course, the fact that Sony has applied to patent this idea is a far cry from confirmation that this kind of protection system is in the works for the PlayStation 4. Even if it is, Sony could easily leave it to individual publishers to decide whether or not to implement it. In May, industry analyst Michael Pachter recounted a conversation[2] with SCEA president Jack Tretton where the Sony executive said he was "totally opposed to blocking used games."

[2] [www][dot]gamesindustry[dot][biz]/articles/2012-05-14-pachter-claims-sonys-jack-tretton-supports-used-games

It was about this time last year that rumors started to swirl that Microsoft was planning to block used games from being playable on the next Xbox. In March, similar rumors popped up surrounding the PlayStation 4[3], codenamed "Orbis" in leaked documents.

[3] arstechnica[dot][com]/gaming/2012/03/ps3-successor-orbis-rumored-for-late-2013-ties-retail-games-to-online-accounts/

At the time, we examined some potential technical methods[4] for implementing this used-game blocking, including the kind of disc-linked solution being discussed in this patent. While this kind of resale-blocking technology would seemingly run afoul of the first sale doctrine codified into US law, legal experts seem unsure[5] about whether that doctrine would be enough to overcome the end-user license agreements common to video game sales. After all, the practice of restricting game resale is already taking root through the wide adoption of digital distribution, which prevents players from reselling downloadable games in almost all cases.

[4] arstechnica[dot][com]/gaming/2012/01/how-the-next-xbox-could-stop-you-from-playing-used-games/
[5] arstechnica[dot][com]/gaming/2012/01/is-it-legal-to-stop-people-from-selling-their-games/

Now that Sony's patent has proven that the company is thinking about whether it could block used game sales, the question from the company's point of view becomes whether or not it should. While a total technical ban on used game sales across an entire console would have an effect on the market for new games, it's far from clear what that effect would be. The availability of cheaper used games does discourage people from picking up new games (GameStop alone sells roughly $2 billion in used games each year), but the money or store credit players get from selling used games is usually plowed right back into buying more games[6], many of which are sold new. In a world in which all used video game sales were blocked through technical means, the new game market would quickly reach a new equilibrium of supply and demand for titles that are locked to a single system.

[6] arstechnica[dot][com]/gaming/2012/03/op-ed-blocking-used-games-unlikely-to-kill-the-console-game-market/

In the end, Sony's decision of whether or not to implement the idea outlined in this patent application will probably come down to the collective weight of two countervailing forces. On one side, there are the developers and publishers lobbying for tighter controls to protect their markets. On the other, there are players who might not be too keen on buying a system that can't play secondhand games (or on buying games that they'll never be able to resell)."

(c) 2013 Condé Nast. All rights reserved
The New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 specifies certain circumstances where all or a substantial part of a copyright work may be used without the copyright owner's permission. A "fair dealing" with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the following purposes: research or private study; criticism or review; or reporting current events.

Seriously, that's the best they could do? (4, Funny)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 years ago | (#42472503)

  • Barfin' Bender
  • Chundering Cherry (2000)
  • Emetic Eliza
  • Gagging Gort/GlaDOS
  • Heavin' Hal
  • Puking Pintsize (I had trouble finding one for P)
  • Ralphin' Rachael
  • Tossing Terminator / Twiki
  • Vomiting V.I.N.CENT

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472695)

Optimus Puke
R2-D Spew

This is fun.

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#42472967)

HAL Ninethrowsup

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 2 years ago | (#42473487)

Upchucking UNIVAC?

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42474209)

Chumming Charlie
Hurling Hank

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42474233)

Does it head rotate 360 degrees and spew all over the room?

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | about 2 years ago | (#42474241)

How about.....

Astro Barf
Retching Robbie
Uran Upchuck
Coughing Cobalt
Maximilian Meltdown
Deadly Data

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42474361)

Why do all sleazebuckets get called Larry?

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (1)

jmsp (1987118) | about 2 years ago | (#42475813)

How about Mr. Creosote [] ?

Re:Seriously, that's the best they could do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42476897)

The Technicolor Yawner?
The Chunder?
Hurling HAL?

Huh? (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about 2 years ago | (#42472529)

Why is it hyperemesis? Doe it puke like the chick from the exorcist with power washer strength?

Re:Huh? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#42472847)

Pretty much, and continuously. Have you seen someone with norovirus?

Re:Huh? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#42472961)

Pretty much, and continuously. Have you seen someone with norovirus?

Funny thing about norovirus is that it doesn't really affect me. Like a while ago my roommate was totally devastated by it, but I only had slight fever, nothing else. I didn't even feel qualm :)

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42473501)

I had the Norovirus a couple of months ago.
Was coming out both ends with the force of a garden hose. I didn't know which end to put on the toilet. My vomity chunks clogged up the sink, I had to swirl my hand in the sick in order to drain it.

Also, it *really* hurt, especially the diaphram spasms (Squeezing both your stomach and your colon at the same time), that continued long after you had nothing left to give.

Took me two days, half a bottle of Cilit Bang and copious amounts of Bleach to get rid of the smell.

and I rarely get sick at all. Barely a cold in the last four years.

Re:Huh? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42473549)

Back end into the toilet, and at the same time, front-end into the bidet conveniently placed next to the toilet. Advantage: you can multitask. Disadvantage: yes, you do need to swirl...

Re:Huh? (1)

Dins (2538550) | about 2 years ago | (#42476265)


Re:Huh? (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#42474747)


We had this hit after my sister's wedding a few years ago. It is an insanely bad 12-36 hours; I personally lost more than 10 lbs over the course of 24 hours (most of it water weight, but still). It's vomiting and diarrhea the like of which only exists in horror movies and it is insanely communicable. If someone around you has a case you will get it yourself. Hand sanitizers don't kill it effectively, it survives 12 hours on solid rock and 12 days on fabrics, and the shear force of the vomiting ensures that every surface in the bathroom will have trace quantities of the virus. Fewer than 20 virus particles can cause infection and infected people will be shedding detectable amounts of the virus for weeks after their symptoms disappear. While making a vomiting robot may be funny, it was probably thought up in response to anecdotes like this:

126 people were dining at six tables in December 1998; one woman vomited. Staff quickly cleaned up, and people continued eating. Three days later others started falling ill; 52 people reported a range of symptoms, from fever and nausea to vomiting and diarrhoea. The cause was not immediately identified. Researchers plotted the seating arrangement: more than 90% of the people on the same table as the sick woman later reported food poisoning. There was a direct correlation between the risk of infection of people at other tables and how close they were to the sick woman. More than 70% of the diners on an adjacent table fell ill; at a table on the other side of the restaurant, the rate was still 25%.

Knowing how vomiting aerosols virus particles and how/how far they travel could be extremely important to providing new recommendations of how to handle situations where people vomit. Do you scrub the entire bathroom down, bleach all the towels and clothes, and take a shower after someone in your household vomits? Because according to this research, if you want to prevent the spread that is what you would have to do.

IG Nobel Prize (2)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#42472607)

I bet this will be one of the winner in IG Nobel Prize for this year.

Now that's science reporting I can get behind! (4, Funny)

tchdab1 (164848) | about 2 years ago | (#42472611)

And definitely not in front of.

Re:Now that's science reporting I can get behind! (1)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#42473103)

So you want a diarrhea and farting one? :P

Re:Now that's science reporting I can get behind! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#42473553)

As opposed to vomitting, and burping one...

good article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472643)

how useful it is! nice article

They should have named it Hurley (4, Funny)

toygeek (473120) | about 2 years ago | (#42472673)

subject says it.

Turing test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472745)

Let's get this and a frat boy and do a Turing test.

Re:Turing test (1)

dr_dank (472072) | about 2 years ago | (#42474513)

::begin subroutine:: If you wanna be cool and bang chicks like us, you gotta prove you're no homo by holding the cock of the guy in front of you and parading around campus. Sigma ruleZ!!!!!

Spewing grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472811)

a robot that can projectile vomit on command

"To projectile" -- a new verbing of a nounback formation.

Re:Spewing grammar (2)

Bill Currie (487) | about 2 years ago | (#42472891)

I suggest you brush up on your grammar. "projectile" is being used as an adverb, not a verb. However, "projectile" and "vomit" together form a compound verb. No different to "nose dive" or "duck walk".

Re:Spewing grammar (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 2 years ago | (#42473863)

Leave the poor creature with its innocence, any person who has never had reason to meet the term "projectile vomit" has led a blessed life.

Re:Spewing grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42473983)

It sounds extremely awkward, to the point that I can't believe the author intended it as a compound verb. If that was indeed the intention (a compound verb), then it would be quite appropriate to use a hyphen to clarify it.

So here's a vote for "grammatical error", either by honest mistake or poor English skills. Considering this is 2013, where grammar is considered "uncool", I'll go with poor English skills. (And I'm not the same AC you responded to.)

Re:Spewing grammar (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 2 years ago | (#42476689)

Actually, to emphasise the point, I'd recommend a medical reference dictionary.

Why wasn't it named "Chunderball"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42472949)

You know, because they could? :-)

This is unethical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42473011)

Poor thing.

Cake batter, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42473255)

Someone provide a reference.

chicken egg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42473269)

The goal of said vomiting system is to study the reach and dispersion of human vomitus

so to study how humans vomit, they build a robot simulating what they try to study, to study it!?
Based on what data did they build the robot, wouldn't they already need their answers to build a reliable robot?

What's missing?

Goal of the project? (1)

kubajz (964091) | about 2 years ago | (#42473347)

I wonder what was the cost of building the robot balanced against the scientific utility. If the main finding is that it can vomit up to 3 meters far, how certain can they be that the distance is simulated effectively? Perhaps by comparing to "live" vomiters, but that would defeat the purpose of building the robot in the first place...? Also, I would assume that there is some probability distribution for the distance the vomit flies from different mouths (writing this sentence, yes I can see the IG Nobel nomination). Other than that, I guess the most significant other finding from the robot may be a model of the exact shape of vomit on the floor but I cannot imagine how it would help with finding out more about the spread of the norovirus... Would anyone know more?

Re:Goal of the project? (1)

toonces33 (841696) | about 2 years ago | (#42476667)

I had read somewhere that they had found that some of the vomit was in the form of an aerosol that spread in the air. They had used a fluorescent dye in their fake vomit to discover this..

I guess it gives them a better idea how large a radius needs cleaning after someone with norovirus pukes.

Re:Goal of the project? (1)

oldelpaso (851825) | about 2 years ago | (#42478475)

I used to work at HSL, left about 5 years ago. It has an unusual remit. Its origins are in providing scientific support to the Health and Safety Executive (e.g. accident investigations, providing scientifically sound guidance to HSE inspectors etc.) but it does a lot of research into wider occupational/public health areas too. It also has some of the UK's leading experts in the effects of fire and explosions, and a fair amount of work done there relates to that - most of the fireworks authorised for sale in the UK get safety tested there, for example. It was a nice place to work, as there were always a bunch of interesting projects being done. The pay there sucks, but I kinda regret leaving, even though I now earn more.

For many HSL research projects, the resulting reports are available on their website (generally those where 100% of the funding came from the public purse). There doesn't seem to be one about Vomiting Larry/norovirus available yet, a press release ( [] ) says "The outcomes of these studies have contributed to reviews of healthcare guidance in hospitals and are due to be published in relevant journals in the near future.", so seemingly not yet published.

A list of publicly available HSL papers/reports from 2012 is at []
Where work was funded by or done in conjunction with HSE, reports are published on the HSE website at []

Vomiting robot? (2)

Andrio (2580551) | about 2 years ago | (#42474255)

It's only a matter of time before this ends up in Spencer's Gifts.

Re:Vomiting robot? (1)

toonces33 (841696) | about 2 years ago | (#42476611)

How about the Apple store as an iBarf.

Re:Vomiting robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42476687)

Wouldn't it be great for parties? Just make sure the head spins and is painted green.


I never get invited... (1)

toonces33 (841696) | about 2 years ago | (#42476739)

to those sorts of parties. Probably just as well - if I knew ahead of time that there was a puking robot, I might stay home. Or show up wearing a wet suit.

You could probably hook up the robot to work as a sort of fountain in a swimming pool however.

Should be scanned (1)

Snufu (1049644) | about 2 years ago | (#42474527)

for a stomach virus.

Garbage Pail Kids (1)

gonzo_ks (2471720) | about 2 years ago | (#42474915)

Am I the only one who feel these names sound like garbage pail kids?

Payback is going to be a bitch (1)

tippe (1136385) | about 2 years ago | (#42475045)

If robots ever rise up and squash us, it'll be because we did shit like this to them. Just watch, payback is going to be a bitch. First they'll puke on us, then they'll make us clean up their puke. Oh, the bitter irony...

Name that comes with video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42475085)

They should call it the Linda Blair, re "The Exorcist"

Mints (1)

techdolphin (1263510) | about 2 years ago | (#42475145)

Vomiting is caused by viruses. I thought it was caused by eating one thin little mint.

Sweet! I Should Get One! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#42475265)

It'd be just like being back in college with my frat rat roommate! Hey Robot, want another beer?

Bulimic Bob (1)

rtobyr (846578) | about 2 years ago | (#42475371)

It's in the title.

Article Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42476467)

Derbyshire is in central England, not northern.[1] Hence, Derbyshire is in the "midlands."

[1] I was born and raised there.

I'd rather see (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about 2 years ago | (#42477263)

I'd rather see a robot that's fueled by alcohol, belches flames, is a kleptomaniac and has humorous catchphrases like "Kill all humans" and "Bite my shiny metal ass".

what a great christmas present for the kids!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42482105)

You could patent this and sell it in thinkgeek what a brilliant invention!!! It hurls many different types of food stuffs depending on whats been ingested imagine the fights kid to kid could have with robots that hurl at each other! Fabulous invention well done i salute you!!!

Get it on dragon's den!!! Can't wait to see bannatyne's face as the robot hurls everywhere, i want one!

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