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This Punching Bag Lets You Fight Cancer Each Time You Hit It

It’s the world’s first punch-able computer.

It’s a literal way to fight cancer: Every time you punch this digital punching bag, you donate money to a cancer foundation.

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The punching bag was created to give people an active way to help at a time when it’s common to feel helpless. “When your family or friends get cancer, and you’re not a doctor, you’re pretty much a bystander,” says Dutch designer Thijs Biersteker, who created the device. “This came from the idea that you that you actually want to step into the ring and join them in the fight–do something more than just buying a fruit basket.”

After you punch in a few basic facts about yourself–whether you’re male or female, your age, and some details about how healthy your lifestyle is–the punching bag loads up a customized game that roughly correlates to your own risk of cancer. As lights start to flash in the shape of cancer cells, you hit each one as hard as you can.

“The cells start appearing on the bag quicker or slower, and more aggressive or less aggressive,” Biersteker says. “You have to punch as quick as possible to get them out.”

It’s basically the first punchable computer, and it wasn’t easy to make. First, the designers had to find lights that could stay in the bag without breaking. “The biggest challenge was to find lamps that were punchable,” he says. “So we had to punch a lot of lamps.”

They also realized that the lights were making the bag too hot. “Trying not to make the punching bag catch fire was also a big challenge,” says Biersteker. After a few weeks of experimentation, the designers had something that worked.

The punching bag will be used to raise money for a Dutch nonprofit called Fight Cancer, which tries to get millennials to host their own fundraising events for cancer research. In the past, that meant marathons or concerts; now it could also mean parties with a fundraising punching bag in the corner.

The designers also plan to take the bag on a tour of European gyms. Each time someone wants to use it, they’ll also donate to research.

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“”You’ll put in the amount of money you want to give by the punch,” Biersteker says. “Then you’ll basically forget how much you’re punching and how much you’re donating. That’s going to be the fun part, I hope.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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