‘Talking chicken’ will lurk around cupboards to help dieters lose weight, claim Manchester uni scientists

By Phil Jones

A talking chicken is set to help Mancunians shed to pounds this January, through a novel creation by scientists at the University of Manchester.

The chicken lurks around cupboard doors and clucks orders to deter sneaky snackers. It even sends a tweet should you have one biscuit too many.

The project, using a single-board Raspberry Pi computer, does have a serious objective though.

The scientists are using this simple computer to illustrate the uses of programming and encourage children into computing.

Dr David Rydeheard, from the University of Manchester, said: “This is an exciting development, taking computing out of its box and allowing schoolchildren to play with it.

“The future wealth of our country depends crucially on our experience in the science and technology of computing.

“At the moment schools fail to teach their students computing, Raspberry Pi and PiFace are ideal for school to use to teach this key subject.”

Raspberry Pi was developed as a cheap, entry-level programming tool, and at just £15 for the credit card sized device, it seems to be working.

PiFace units work in conjunction with Raspberry to control things in the real world, be that powering a motor, controlling robots or triggering a camera.

Academics from the university’s School of Computer Science have run workshops for schoolteachers, with over 50 from all over the North West turning up for each session.

And the Stem Team at Manchester Museum of Science and technology have also run workshops to give children hands on experience of programming.

Dr Andrew Robinson said: “It really fired the children’s imagination, after seeing what Raspberry Pi and PiFace could do we had so many ideas.

“We had suggestions of an automated insulin monitor to dial 999 and another that automatically reordered food when it detects the cupboard is bare.

“One child even came up with a design for a device that politely reminds you to put the toilet seat down after use – I was really blown away with what they came up with.”

The Stem Team are even launching their own international competition for schools and hobbyists to create useful gadgets that change the world, using Raspberry Pi.

Click here to see how to make your own cupboard-guarding chicken.

Image courtesy of radiate science via YouTube, with thanks.

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