This is a neat project indeed. My guess is a small gearmotor, although I can think of a couple of ways to do it using a small motor similar to the vibration motor in a pager. Then a PWM drive to slow it down, and it is done, except if it needs to be checking for movement to tigger the motion.
But this project could indeed be the start of another fad.
He purchased the butterfly as seen in the photos, I'm not sure what the wings are made of but it looks like some fairly thin cloth/nylon/spandex type material. In the Instructable he says that the wings will be finished in fabric that matches the dress.
A moving mechanical butterfly in your hair would really turn some heads. It seems that DelFly is on to something similar although they could use some tips in making their ornithopters more "butterfly" looking. And, of course, remove the camera as well. Getting it to alight on top of the brides hair whilst in the course of reciting her vows would also get a few "wows".
Some of this technology has been perfected and mass marketed in the RC helicopter and airplane world. Minature recievers, lithum ion batteries, tiny servos made from motors and a leadscrew occuping less than 1/2 of a CC. The green led in this case tells the operator that the system is powered and ready. I would have modified a Ready to fly Blade MCX which costs $135 and includes a co-axial 4 channel helicopter, 4 channel radio, battery and charger...
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was a Washington State suspension bridge that opened in 1940 and spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula. It opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7, just four months after it opened.
Noting that we now live in an era of “confusion and ill-conceived stuff,” Ammunition design studio founder Robert Brunner, speaking at Gigaom Roadmap, said that by adding connectivity to everything and its mother, we aren't necessarily doing ourselves any favors, with many ‘things’ just fine in their unconnected state.
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