Sneaky Pepper Grinder Shuts Down Screens at Mealtime

Anyone frustrated by family and friends focusing on their devices at dinnertime will be fascinated to hear about a prototype for a pepper grinder that shuts down screens during mealtime.
Devices at Mealtime

Photographing food with a mobile phone

Anyone who has ever been frustrated by family and friends focusing on their phones — or tablets or the TV — at dinnertime will be fascinated to hear about a device co-masterminded by an Australian pasta-sauce brand and its ad agency, Clemenger BBDO Sydney: The Dolmio Pepper Hacker, a fully functioning pepper grinder with a twist.

When you turn the top of the mill to season your meal, the grinder sneakily shuts down all Wi-Fi-connected and other electronic devices to which it has been linked via an automated switch for half an hour — just long enough to enjoy a pleasant family meal.

The grinder, which is, alas, currently only a PR-courting prototype and not yet available for sale, also reportedly uses an SMS command to remove all non-native apps — including Facebook, Twitter and games — from devices on which the user has installed a special communication-enabling profile.

“It removes them for a period of 30 minutes but everything is re-installed after that 30 minutes,” Brendan Forster, head of creative technology at Clemenger BBDO, told the Australian website Mumbrella.

Forster says several prototypes of the fairly elaborate device were built as a social experiment “to see what happens when you remove tech from the family room.” (Not to mention the dining room.) To that end, the agency placed them in a few Australian homes in which only the mother of the family was in on the experiment.

The  video, the agency says, reflects the results.

How would your family react to a device like this? Tell us in the poll below.

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