A Socket's Revenge

Made by hongfeij

"Save energy and prevent fire accidents!" But what if the "smart socket" you brought home is a revenger? After being inserted and drained of power, the socket decides to "protest" instead of silence. When the socket feels "abused", if the "abuser" is nearby, it makes noise and makes your energy use a nightmare.

Created: February 17th, 2023



Drawing from my think piece, I'd like to discuss how humans and objects in daily life should treat each other when the objects become alive. Imagining how the socket works in our everyday life, we insert all kinds of appliances inside it and extract power from it endlessly. Nonetheless, it can only keep silent since it has nothing but three holes. Thus, I propose a scenario that the socket decides to "protest" after being abused by human beings. This project will let us notice the neglected family members and reflect on our convenient modern life will also hurt something else. We can't take it for granted.


Three examples are influencing my project the most.

The Spirits in the Lamp, made by C. Zhang and T. Chu offered me a fascinating perspective to critically reflect on human's relationship with our everyday objects. It's not just a one-way demand but a mutual influence. 

TEACHER OF ALGORITHMS made by automato.farm triggered my critical thinking. Humans play the master role in giving intelligence to smart objects. What if objects affect human behavior as a teacher instead? 

Our "What if" exercise made me notice that most objects "want" our attention by messing our life in our minds. There must be something wrong with our attitude toward treating them. This finding shapes my project's character.


The physical prototype comprises two parts: The first is a laptop bracket. A breadboard and a Nano sensor are embedded in the wood shell. It can feel the temperature change in the laptop and send the signal to control the second part. The second part is a "black box": an enhanced socket. The original socket is wrapped by the same color cube and only shows its face to the user. A servo is hidden in the cube. A metal coil strangles the arm of the servo.

Two parts of code control the behavior of the prototype: The p5.js code integrates the machine learning model. The classifier has two classes: "Human Detected" and "No Person". The code uses the model to judge if anyone is using the appliance and send information back to the Arduino IDE for the next step. The Arduino code controls the physical activities of the prototype: read the temperature, map it into the delay time, and rotate the servo with the delay time interval.

Therefore, the socket is ready to rebel. If the user uses the appliance, the camera detects him and sends a red signal. If the user also uses the appliance for a long time or runs a high-power demand program. The temperature will surpass the set threshold. When both conditions are satisfied, the servo will be activated. As the temperature rises, the rotation speeds up, making the noise much harder to bear. But when the user realizes he is abusing the socket and stop the high-demand behavior, the temperature will go down, and the noise will also disappear.