Discovery Channel’s latest invention: “Prototype This!”

By: Jen Smith


Following in the footsteps of wildly popular Discovery Channel shows like Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs, Prototype This is a new venture looking to cash on in the technology craze. Basically, we find out what happens when you throw four geeks/experts into a room and make them invent stuff. Ever dreamed of a robot that will wake, feed and shower you à la The Jetsons? How about an adhesive that will let you scale walls as easily as a gecko? Maybe you just want to watch boxing robots? Either way, your dream just might become a reality thanks to this show… or at least you’ll be sufficiently entertained.

Prototype This stars four experts: Dr. Zoz Brooks (computer and robotics nerd), Joe Grand (electronics nerd), Terry Sandin (special effects nerd), and Dr. Mike North (engineering nerd). Fancast got the chance to chat with Mike about the show and what makes it so interesting. First and foremost for Mike, he wants to make it his mission to teach children about the joys of science. “We are imaginative and creative people,” he said. “I think the show really captures that and it will speak to Americans.” He explained that one of the best parts about doing the show was having an opportunity to invent prototypes without a large company breathing down their necks. “We’re lucky because companies have to think about making money. All we have to worry about is making something cool. It puts us in a unique position in the world of engineering. It’s really nice; I don’t know anyone else who has that luxury.”

The best part about the show, of course, is the crazy stuff they get to build. The premiere episode focuses on a mind-controlled car that uses biofeedback sensors that determine whether a person is calm enough to drive a car, thus making it road rage-proof. Pretty cool huh? That’s just the beginning. They’ve also elaborated on one of Mike’s personal inventions (an adhesive that can be activated and deactivated electronically) for a prototype that will allow humans to scale walls. “I don’t want to give away too much… but one will be a vertical glass surface and one will be a concrete surface. We call him Gecko Man.” That sounds tough enough, but according to Mike, it wasn’t the toughest experiment they tried. That title belongs to an all terrain vehicle they modeled after a cockroach. “It runs and walks with six super high-tech carbon fiber legs and we drive it from inside,” he said. “It’s not often you get to work on a potentially revolutionary vehicle.” According to Mike, it was the most aggravating experiment but also the most rewarding. “It’s like a big kids dream come true.”

So, for all you super-dorks (like me) who want to watch a few geniuses put together robots and mind-controlled cars in a too-short time span, Prototype This debuts on the Discovery Channel tonight at 10 p.m.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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