Like riding the world’s worst rollercoaster. | GIF: Brain Navi

If you’ve been tested for COVID-19 then you’ve probably experienced the unpleasantness of a nasal swab. Someone takes a long-handled cotton swab and sticks it up your nose — way up your nose — until it reaches the back of the mucus-cave that is your nasal cavity. Upon arrival they give the swab a good twirl to collect your secretions and beat a merciful retreat. I can say from personal experience that it’s a uniquely unpleasant sensation. It’s something that just feels wrong, like the opposite of scratching an itch.

That’s perhaps why I was so unsettled by the sight of this autonomous nasal swab robot developed by Taiwanese medtech startup Brain Navi. Of all the entities I don’t want sticking cotton swabs up my nose, an industrial robot…

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