Tongue Brush

Tongue Brush

Inspired by the work of Simone Giertz who was once known across the internet as the Queen of Shitty Robots (her words, not ours) an Austrian-based design studio created what is easily the most unsettling tool that modern man has ever forged from the earth. Is it a paint brush? Is it a basting brush? Is it one of the most disturbing objects you’ve ever seen? The answer is all of the above.

The existence of the tool, revealed to my co-workers in our work chat through a series of awkward (but beautifully looped) GIFs, first came to light earlier this week when Multi Awesome Studio shared its Tongue Brush on social media and YouTube in a video that awkwardly demonstrates its many, many uses.

“Imagine a tool as versatile and flexible as a human tongue,” is how the multi-faceted design studio describes the Tongue Brush, which appears to be a highly detailed replica of the muscular organ made from flexible silicone and attached to a run-of-the-mill paintbrush handle. For centuries, designers and artists have been drawing inspiration from Mother Nature for everything from paintings to sculptures, to even gadgets. There’s a reason highly capable robots like Boston DynamicsATLAS and SPOT look like a human and a dog, respectively. They’re both creatures who are already well adept at navigating the terrains and environments of our planet and cities. Why reinvent the wheel? (Another gadget that was undoubtedly inspired by Mother Nature’s handiwork.)

As the Tongue Brush demonstrates, however, copying Mother Nature isn’t always the best approach. She’s also responsible for Panda bears and other entirely useless creations we can probably live without. That’s not to say the human tongue isn’t a remarkable organ, it’s just that its capabilities are better taken advantage of when actually inside a human’s mouth, not on the end of a paintbrush handle. Cat owners who’ve watched their pets meticulously groom themselves will undoubtedly argue that the Tongue Brush has some merit, until they remember the coughed-up hairballs that end up all over their homes.

Do I hate the Tongue Brush? Absolutely not. Like Edison perfecting the lightbulb, its creators have simply discovered how not to egg-wash a croissant, and how not to paint a masterpiece. Drawing inspiration from Mother Nature isn’t wrong, but there are many ways in which we can also improve her work, and this, if anything, is a great example of that.