A beary good idea

Toxic Toby is an animatronic bear. Built in Battle Ground, Washington, he now stands vigil on the streets of London, connected to an app that measures air quality.

Whenever pollution levels hit a point unsafe for humans, Toby’s little eyebrows flex, and he coughs, paw to mouth.

Toxic Toby, an animatronic puppet teddy bear being used to raise awareness about air quality in LondAdorable though he is, he sends a powerful message: The air we need so desperately can contribute to our undoing.

I wonder if it would be possible to create an Unnatural Umberto, a bear that would detect unhealthy additives in our foods.

We could place a crumb of waffle or cookie, or a drop of salsa onto his sensitive tongue, and if it contained artificial flavors, artificial colors or those ubiquitous and poorly named “natural flavors” — the bane of our family’s dietary existence — his little eyes would squint, and he’d spit it out.

Just like we all should do.

Tantrum averted.


Curious about this little bear? Watch a video of his animatronic self or see him in action in London.

Read the story: “Battle Ground company builds puppet that coughs when air is bad,” by Calley Hair, The Columbian, Oct. 16, 2018.