Tweeting chicken uses Raspberry Pi to deter dieters

8 January 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
Mobile version
Share |
Dr Andrew Robinson with the Raspberry Pi and chicken

Dr Andrew Robinson with the Raspberry Pi and chicken

University of Manchester scientists have come up with a unique deterrent for hungry dieters – a talking, tweeting chicken guarding their cupboards.

The chicken, which not only barks out orders to sneaky snackers, but even tweets that person’s Twitter account to publicly shame them if they stray, uses a Raspberry Pi – a tiny, single-board computer.

Raspberry Pi and PiFace, an add-on which powers real-life applications, are the simplest and most user-friendly ways for computers to interface with the world, and are being used by University of Manchester scientists to inspire the next generation of computer whizzkids.

The credit-card-sized computers have a vast range of potential applications that will get young people fired up for computing. 

As well as the cupboard watcher, the university has helped youngsters make birdboxes that tweet and photograph birds, control Scalextric cars and build interactive toys that react to the weather. 

London Zoo is also interested in collaborating to record animal movements.

The academics, from the University’s School of Computer Science, have run a series of workshops for teachers aiming to transform the teaching of computing in schools. They say Raspberry Pi and PiFace put the fun back into computing and academics hope to be a major influence on changing the way the schools and society view the subject.

Dr David Rydeheard, from the School of Computer Science, said: “This is an exciting development, taking computing out of its box and allowing schoolchildren to play with the science of computing. Schools have physics, chemistry and biology laboratories to teach these subjects. 

"The combination of Raspberry Pi and PiFace creates a cheap personal laboratory for computer science that every child can own.

“The future wealth of our country depends crucially on our expertise in the science and technology of computing. At the moment schools fail to teach their students computing: how to design and build computing systems. Raspberry Pi and PiFace are ideal for schools to use to teach this key subject."

Academics have found that schoolchildren coming into university have a much lower level of technical knowledge than in previous years. 

The government is keen on improving how computing is taught in schools using a scientific approach to the subject.

Raspberry Pi was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the aim of improving teaching of basic computer science in schools. PiFace devices sit on top of the Raspberry Pi to control the real world – powering motors, controlling robots, triggering cameras and using sensor networks. 

With the Pi they have all the capabilities of a computer but are more flexible and can be embedded in the real world – costing as little as £40 per kit.

Workshops for teachers using Raspberry Pi and PiFace have attracted more than 50 teachers from schools in the North West per session, and more recently the university has run workshops with children.

Dr Andrew Robinson said he was amazed by the response of children. “It really fired their imagination," he said. “After seeing what Raspberry Pi and PiFace could do we had suggestions including an automated insulin monitor that can dial 999, and another that automatically reorders 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 team are also launching the Raspberry Pi Bake Off, an international competition for schools and hobbyists, challenging entrants to create useful gadgets to change the world using Raspberry Pi computers.

Further information:

See a video of children using PiFace with the Scalextric and birdbox during the Manchester Science Festival

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1605

"We visit Barcelona, one of the smartest cities in the world, to find out what makes it so special. What does it look like and what is the future?"

E&T jobs

  • Senior Development Engineer, Electronics

    Premium job

    Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation
    • Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
    • Competitive

    We are an innovative, robust and fast growing business, whose main focus is to deliver continues improvement to existing products and offer new sol..

    • Recruiter: Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation

    Apply for this job

  • Smart Grid Research Engineer

    Premium job

    University of Strathclyde
    • Cumbernauld, Glasgow
    • Grade: 6/7* £26,537 - £37,768*

    Work as part of a growing dynamic team on a wide range of technical projects with particular emphasis on experimental validation and testing

    • Recruiter: University of Strathclyde

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Asset Specialist

    Affinity Water
    • Hatfield, Hertfordshire

    Responsible for updating and writing electrical engineering standards, approved codes of practice and safe systems of work

    • Recruiter: Affinity Water

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Electronics Engineer

    York Instruments
    • York, North Yorkshire

    Senior electronics engineer to work as part of a team developing an MEG imaging system; working with the engineering team and external contractors.

    • Recruiter: York Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Manufacturing Engineer - Circuit Card Assembly

    MBDA
    • Lostock Junction
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What’s the opportunity?   Manufacturing UK is an integral part of the Operations Directorate whose principal mission is to ensure that MBDA’s deliverable commitments are met...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • High Voltage Engineer

    Premium job

    Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment
    • Great Dunmow, Essex

    This High Voltage Engineer will provide design leadership for high voltage cable assemblies up to one megavolt.

    • Recruiter: Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment

    Apply for this job

  • Team Leader - Flank Arrays

    BAE Systems
    • Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria, England
    • Negotiable

    Team Leader - Flank Arrays Would you like to work in a unique role within the construction of the Astute Class submarines? We currently have a vacancy for a Team Leader - Flank Arrays at our site in Barrow-in-Furness. As a Team Leader - Flank Arrays, you

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics and Software Engineer

    Copley Scientific Ltd
    • Nottingham
    • circa £35,000 per annum + bonus

    Develop new test equipment for the pharmaceutical industry. Good opportunities to grow and develop. Successful family-owned and managed business.

    • Recruiter: Copley Scientific Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Intelligent Transport Systems Engineer - Highways Technology

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Birmingham, West Midlands

    Our transport technology team in Birmingham is currently growing a highly skilled and customer-focused team to...

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Robotic Systems Engineer

    Premium job

    National Oceanographic Centre
    • Southampton, Hampshire
    • £45,271 to £49,207 per annum

    Responsible for technical oversight and project management of internally and externally funded innovation centre projects.

    • Recruiter: National Oceanographic Centre

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T