I cannot really see the point in Corey Menscher’s much applauded (for example, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) gadget Kickbee. In short, Kickbee is a wearable belly belt with embedded piezo sensors, which send a message to a Twitter account each time the foetus kicks around.

Writes Corey: “With the Kickbee, I wanted to create a device that would give me a chance to be aware of our baby’s movements”.

“Give me a chance to be aware of our baby’s movements”? Give me a break! The Kickbee is a good illustration of how underrated haptic experiences are in our culture.

As I wrote in a post last June (and another post in November), this lack of appreciation of haptics is problematic, because it sustains the general cultural trend of drawing our attention away from immediate sensory experiences and transforming them into mediated experiences.

By transforming the tactile life of the foetus into an ultrasound-generated image or a series of Twitter messages — ‘I kicked Mommy at 06.23 on Thu, Dec. 18’, ‘I kicked Mommy at 06.25 on Thu, Dec. 18’, etcetera — we put yet another medium between the physical world and our senses.

It’s like tourists who never get a chance to see (or touch or smell) anything in a foreign city, because they’ve spent the whole vacation looking through a (video) camera.

The Kickbee also reinforces the general tendency in our culture to undervalue the sense of touch, making it less important than the other senses, especially the sense of vision (and partly the auditory sense). For another comment on this phenomenon, see Jan Eric’s and my conference abstract here.

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