Recently, I saw buzz on social media about the Testimatic – the world’s first ball checking machine. Initially, I was skeptical. A robot is the last thing I want touching my testicle. I’ve seen far too many movies about robots gaining autonomy and sentience to want to risk grabbing that sensitive area. I know the Three Laws of Robotics are to protect mankind, but do they also apply to our ‘manhood’?
Despite that worry, I was still intrigued. I clicked to learn more and learned that this idea was developed by Testicular Cancer New Zealand, a foundation built to educate people about testicular cancer, encourage awareness of the disease, and support men who are going through diagnosis and treatment.
Through further investigation, I found out that the Testimatic is actually a way for men to get their testicles examined for testicular cancer, without the ‘awkwardness’ of seeing a doctor grab their scrotum. I reached out to Testicular Cancer NZ to learn more.
How does the Testimatic work?
Inside the Testimatic is a person, much like I once thought that a very short person manned the inside of Coke machine. A man steps inside the Testimatic, drops his pants, and waits. The person inside the machine reaches his/her gloved hand through a hole in the wall to examine the man’s testicles. This entire process takes less than 30 seconds and is done without any eye contact.
As I reread that last paragraph, I realize this sounds like the folk tales of yesteryear of trucks stop bathrooms and glory holes, but I promise that this is much less scandalous, and far more important. The person inside the Testimatic is actually an urologist. Following the exam, the urologist steps out of his box and speaks with the man who was just examined.
How did the idea for the Testimatic come to fruition?
According to Testicular Cancer NZ, the Testimatic was the “brainchild of some creative folk in an effort to find a way of engaging guys, in an out-of-the-box way, on an important health issue.” I do find it ironic that this out-of-the-box solution involved putting a urologist inside a box.
In addition to forming and implementing this idea, they had an opportunity to launch at Big Boys Toys (an expo to show off the latest and greatest in different products and industries) on November 16-18, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. This event is “‘the’ annual event for Kiwi blokes, and the ideal breeding ground for engagement with our target market.”
What have been the early reactions to the Testimatic?
At first, the concept and sight of the Testimatic caused men to make a variety of witty remarks (of which I knew I would partake in) and do a double take or two. I do hope that once they were done with their double takes that they took their own doubles into their hands later.
Beyond the initial reactions, reception has been very positive all round. Testicular Cancer NZ reported that about 175 guys were checked over the three days of the event, with lots of friends encouraging each other to step inside the box. A couple of guys were referred back to their doctors for follow up screening, showing that this idea is more than just a novel concept and will potentially save lives. These exams were followed by countless conversations about men’s health and testicular cancer.
In the future, they hope to “utilise is at other similar events, perhaps in the corporate environment, especially during April which is testicular cancer awareness month. There are many large employers here with largely male workforces that are taking a more proactive health and wellbeing stance with regard to the welfare of their employees. Some even close for a day and engage health and injury prevention providers, emergency services, entertainment and the like – creating a fun day for the workplace. Our university campuses also engage in these sorts of activities as part of orientation weeks.”
How does the Testimatic help break down barriers about discussing men’s health?
“Men are a different beast when it comes to their health. There’s a level of vulnerability, shyness, embarrassment. It’s ingrained in our men to be strong, the provider for family, [and] a tendency to put the health and wellness of their loved ones first.
The message that we’re trying to spread is that they don’t need to go to their doctor. They can perform their own self-checks, make it part of a monthly routine in the privacy of their own home.”
Beyond the actual event, the Testimatic has been a catalyst in generating healthy discussion around testicular cancer on the online world, with this video Tweet from the Independent generating over 800 engagements in less than three days.
While the Testimatic is based in New Zealand, hopefully this idea and the media coverage will inspire men all around the world to take care of their own southern hemispheres with more regularity.