Made On Earth — Status: Stinky

Craft & Design Technology


Bridging the gap between real-world hygiene and the social networks taking over the virtual world, offers up an intriguing way to keep tabs on someone’s level of body odor.

Laurier Rochon and Marc Beaulieu built a web-enabled deodorant docking station, originally called Zero Privacy, as a whimsical critique of social networking sites and their related privacy issues.

The dock senses when Rochon’s deodorant stick is removed, keeps track of how long it’s out, and then instantly transmits that information to the web for the whole world to see. Anyone online can tell on which days and for how long Rochon has applied his deodorant. If this seems like a creepy invasion of privacy and makes you feel like screaming “too much information!” you’re getting their point.

The deodorant dock was designed as a class project in Vincent Leclerc’s course Physical Computing and Tangible Media, at Concordia University in Montreal. Rochon and Beaulieu wanted to use the same social systems they say are causing people to give up too much privacy, believing that parody is better at raising awareness than ranting.

From idea to finished product, it took the duo four weeks to complete the dock. The website lays out their plans, materials, and schematics, so others can build on their work without struggling through the same challenges, like trying to figure out the XPort Ethernet server’s communication protocol so it talks to the internet the way they wanted it to.

They placed a high importance on making the dock look almost overdesigned, like a commercial product, to add to its believability and humor. It’s got a status LED that goes on when the deodorant is removed, and an Ethernet jack for easy connection to the web. It runs on AC power or AA batteries, and the future addition of a wireless connection will make it even more portable.

By combining creative making, software hacking, and satire of the idea of online “status,” the project is helping to keep Rochon clean, one day at a time.

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