How Does Kim Possible's Moodulator Technology Work?

It's Valentine's Day so let's celebrate by focusing on a fictional technology that inadvertently neurohacked two Disney channel cartoon characters. Most of the time Kim Possible (voiced by Christy Carlson Romano) and Shego (voiced by Nicole Sullivan) were under the influence of the technology they were separately forced to be in love.

Image Source: Kim Possible

In this post I am going to examine and overthink the moodulator technology featured in the Kim Possible episode "Emotion Sickness". Dr. Drakken (voiced by John DiMaggio) tries to steal an unrelated technology from a lab. Kim and Ron Stoppable (voiced by Will Friedle) show up to try to stop his burglary. Kim and Shego fight resulting in accidentally receiving mind control chips. Ron thinks he's playing a handheld video game when he's actually activating said mind control chips. Hilarity ensues.

As the Kim Possible Fandom wiki entry for moodulator states:

The Moodulator system was a controller device with synced wireless receiver chips created by Dr. Cyrus Bortel as a way to remotely capture and override a person's emotions when attached to their neck. He sought to sell it to the highest bidder.

As stated above moodulator technology was invented by Dr. Bortel. Other mind-altering technology created by Dr. Bortel has previously been featured on Kim Possible in the form of his neuro-compliance chip.

In appearance the moodulator chip is a circular shaped device with eight separate prongs protruding outward roughly 45 degrees apart from each other along the rim. The precise size is hard to determine from the cartoon but I would estimate the diameter of the moodulator chip to be no more than 3 centimeters and more likely it is smaller than that. The majority of the surface area on the front side of the moodulator chip is a circular display screen.

The back of the moodulator chip isn't shown but as I'll explain further in this post I believe the reverse side is just as interesting as the front.

Image Source: Kim Possible

One thing to keep in mind when analyzing technology in the Kim Possible universe is that some technologies are more advanced than in our universe. For example nanoelectronics in the form of the nano tick.

Visually it can't be determined if the prongs protruding from the moodulator chip are metallic and if so what the conductive properties of the prongs are. Whether or not the prongs are metallic they may serve an ancillary function of keeping the moodulator chip firmly flat when adhered to a surface. If the prongs are metallic I don't believe they form an antenna array. My guess would be that at least two of the prongs would be used to measure electrodermal activity. The other prongs would wirelessly relay the signal from the moodulator chip to the nervous system. Most likely the central nervous system rather than the peripheral nervous system since the moodulator chip is never shown working when adhered to an area of the body not near the neck. Moodulator chips on Kim and Shego were on the back of the neck. When Dr. Bortel was testing the moodulator chip on himself the chip was situated around the area of the front of his neck.

The moodulator chip is shown to be easily adhered and removed at will. When the moodulator chip is detached the screen emits an orange indicating light. During a fight moodulator chips drop from a shelf onto the back of Shego and Kim's necks and remain affixed so it doesn't take relatively much pressure to attach the moodulator chips. Due to the advanced state of nanotechnology in the Kim Possible universe my guess is that whatever material is on the reverse side of the moodulator chip employs van der Waals force to adhere to skin; similar to gecko feet. Also on the reverse side would presumably be several small electrodes which deliver the moodulator's signal wireless past the skin and muscles into the nervous system.

Image Source: Kim Possible

The type of display screen on the moodulator chip is rather difficult for me to deduce. Since the moodulator chip has to be low power as a wearable device my best guess is that it would be a type of RGB LED matrix display or possibly a LED-backlit LCD screen.

The power supply for the moodulator chip seems as uncertain as its display screen. Depending on the efficiency the most likely sources of energy for the moodulator chip would be a thermocouple harvesting body heat or betavoltaic (atomic battery).

Earlier in this post I expressed the belief that the prongs of the moodulator chip don't function as an antenna array. The moodulator chips receive their wireless signals from a remote control that looks somewhat similar to the Kimmunicator. It seems there would be an internal antenna within the moodulator chip. Consider the evolution of antennas for mobile phones. Up until the mid-1990s mobile phones had an external antenna. Around 1996 mobile phones began to become commercially available with an internal antenna.

I assume since the moodulator system seems to be a single data signal broadcasted over a single radio channel the internal antenna is a smart antenna with signal processing capability. "Moodulator" is a play on the word modulator and the Kim Possible episode doesn't provide enough clues as to what method of RF modulation the moodulator remote control uses. Most likely the moodulator system's radio signal would be high up in the gigahertz range since the internal antenna is tiny enough to be in a chip I estimate being no bigger than 3 centimeters in diameter. The moodulator has good range since Shego was affected from a distance.

Since each mood that could be called up by the remote would be assigned a binary string for memory purposes the number of emotions a moodulator can induce should be considered. The Kim Possible Fandom wiki cited above lists the emotions demonstrated in the episode:

  • Happy/Cheerful - Yellow
  • Sad - Blue
  • Suspicious - Green
  • Confused - Purple
  • Angry - Red
  • Love - Pink

Doing a Google internet search shows that in the field of psychology the number of human emotions there are depends on the source. A University of California, Berkeley study puts the number of human emotions at 27. "Suspicious" doesn't seem to be one of the emotions on the U.C. Berkeley list but romance and sexual desire are listed as different emotions. Kim Possible and Shego were lovestruck so maybe the memory of the moodulator is limited and Dr. Bortel combined a few similar enough emotions as archetypes. Whatever the case two or three dozen emotions at most seems like a reasonable number.

I haven't speculated much about the remote which controls the moodulator chips because there isn't much to speculate about. Under the trivia section of the moodulator wiki entry it states:

Although of slightly different designs and colors, in the heat of action, Ron confused the Moodulator Controller and Kimmunicator, picking up the wrong one.

  • This implies that Wade converted a handheld gaming device for the Kimmunicator.

I think Kim Possible's twin brothers and Ron mistaking the moodulator controller for a handheld game is something of a red herring there. Wade (voiced by Tahj Mowry) made the Kimmunicator for Kim and Dr. Bortel made the moodulator system to auction it off. Neither was mass produced commercially so I think it's more probable that Wade and Dr. Bortel used similar project boxes for their respective inventions.

Image Source: Kim Possible