This Robot Would Like to Help You Decorate Your Easter Eggs

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egg-bot.com

When you think of dyeing Easter eggs -- should you think of dyeing Easter eggs -- you probably think of little bowls filled with food coloring, and/or those cartoon-driven kits with the packets of dye and the bendable metal dipper.

If so: You probably have not yet met the Eggbot, a robot that, as its name suggests, can robotically draw on spherical or ellipsoidal objects. The robot uses a motorized machine, connected to drawing software, to break up decorating motions into discrete steps. It can draw on anything from a ping-pong ball to a grapefruit ("not just eggs but golf balls, light bulbs, mini pumpkins, and even things like wine glasses" -- basically, anything curved and therefore supremely difficult to decorate). All this leads to objects that look like this:

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Pretty nice. On the one hand, the Eggbot is just another random gadget among many -- and one of interest exclusively to the kind of passionate hobbyists who'd be willing to shell out $195 for a robot with one very specific purpose. But eggs, with their so-hard-to-draw-on surfaces, have also always presented a particular challenge when it comes to, you know, craft. Decorating an egg well has represented a kind of mastery -- over physics, over curve, over lines that refuse to lay straight. In that sense, the Eggbot is a cheeky little successor to the sewing machine and the typewriter and the camera: Its products straddle the line between art and mechanical production.

And in a world that values the handmade and the Etsyesque -- a world in which a human touch can be an object's primary selling point -- a robot that specializes in decorating can actually be a matter of some anxiety. 

"Is this cheating?" asks the Eggbot's FAQ, earnestly, anticipatorily.

The answer:

Only if you are trying to pass off your eggbot art as something else, like handmade pysanky. This is a completely different way of decorating eggs, and certainly shouldn't be considered "cheating." A healthier attitude is to think of this as one more tool in the egg decorator's arsenal.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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