Simone Giertz, the self-proclaimed Queen of Shitty Robots, has used her time in quarantine wisely to create the kind of serotonin injection we could all use right about now: a paw-operated (pawperated?) photo booth for her dog.
It essentially works like a Pavlovian selfie, only instead of ringing a bell, Giertz trained her dog Scraps to step on a pedal to trigger a treat dispenser. Add a camera programmed to snap a pic with each pedal press and voilà, you have a puppy selfie studio.
The YouTuber and inventor is known for her wacky creations that make up in innovation for what they lack in practicality. Her previous inventions include a proud parent machine to give comforting shoulder pats for a quarter, a soup-serving robot, and a musical instrument made entirely out of teeth, among many others.
Giertz, who is sponsored by Lego, built the physical photo booth out of Lego bricks and used a Lego Mindstorms set, the company’s line of programmable components, to create the mechanics. She attached a pedal and circuit board to both a treat dispenser and a distance sensor programmed to cause the camera to go off so that pressing the pedal triggered both. The mechanism took a bit of finetuning to get right, and she had to gut the original automatic treat dispenser she intended to use and hook it up to her Lego Mindstorms set for more reliable results. But the final product is nothing short of adorable.
“She gets a treat, I get a photo, everyone’s happy,” Giertz said in the video.
In lieu of other dogs to test out her invention, Giertz built a tiny robot dog out of Legos to snap selfies in the booth as well. Unsurprisingly, it showed significantly less interest in the treats than Scraps did.