Pregnancy Simulator – “Mommy Tummy”
This is the latest pregnancy simulation system developed by a research group at Kanagawa Institute of Technology. It was displayed at the Tokyo Game Show 2011.
In this system, the user wears a jacket that contains rubber balloons, vibrators, a water-bag, touch sensors, and air actuators. The abdomen gradually increases in size as the baby grows, and the fetus can be observed on a monitor.
"Pregnancy usually lasts 10 months and ten days, but with this system, the abdomen reaches full-term size in two minutes. There are already systems that use a jacket where the abdomen swells, but with this system, the user can experience the baby kicking as well."
By pumping warm water into the water-bag from a tank, this system simulates the weight of the growing fetus. The water is maintained at the temperature of amniotic fluid, which is 37-38 degrees, so the user can experience the warmth of the fetus as well.
"The effects of the baby kicking and the breasts enlarging are achieved by using balloons. The balloons are inflated by air from a compressor, putting pressure on the abdomen. A baby doesn't just hit and kick, it also moves from side to side. To reproduce that, we've arranged balloons in a matrix pattern, and by rapidly inflating the adjacent balloons, we can create a continuous crawling sensation in the abdomen for a short time."
When the pregnancy reaches full term, the game mode switches to communication with the fetus. In this mode, if you move suddenly, the baby gets angry, and if you stroke the abdomen gently, the baby relaxes.
"In terms of the overall system, we'd like to try communicating fetal movements next. When Mom says happily, "The baby kicked! It kicked!", the father can't feel that. So we'd like to attach this kind of device on both the father's and the mother's side, to quickly communicate to the father the experience of the fetal movements felt by the mother."
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