Bridging the gap between real-world hygiene and
the social networks taking over the virtual world,
iamclean.org 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
20 Make: Volume 14
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.
>> Zero Privacy: iamclean.org
Photograph by Laurier Rochon