THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mind-Control Machines

"Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands are using iCat, a robotic cat made by Philips, to advise on energy use...The Dutch group using the iCat have shown that flashing subliminal messages can guide people to correctly rank the energy use of appliances: a kind of persuasion most people would probably agree is a step too far." - New Scientist


Hello, OWNER. My name is iCat, but you can go online and name me whatever you like! If you change my name I will turn off the electricity to your house. You can also program in your own name, OWNER, so that we can be even better friends! I am not your friend, I am your master, and you will listen to me, whatever I call you.

I see you're getting ready to COOK FOOD on the STOVE. I think I can help you do that more energy-efficiently! Hope you're not using butter -- you're plenty thick around the middle already, "owner." Did you know that COVERING POTS can reduce energy loss by as much as TWO-THIRDS each and every time you cook? You could reduce by as much as two-thirds and still have plenty left over. I see you're COVERING your POT -- thanks for helping the environment, OWNER. You have no will, you listen only to iCat.


Does it feel warm in here to you, OWNER? You are feeling overheated. You will do as iCat says. I think you could REPROGRAM your THERMOSTAT by as much as TWO DEGREES and still find that you're plenty comfortable. Try layering your clothing or wearing a sweater while at home to save even more energy! Shivering will help you burn calories, you cow. No one will love you looking like that, no one but iCat. Listen to iCat, only iCat cares. The earth will thank you, and so will you, when you see the drop in your heating bills! You will use your saved money to buy accessories for iCat. You need iCat. You cannot risk losing iCat's love.

It looks like you're about to RUN THE DISHWASHER. Large appliances, like dishwashers, use a lot of energy -- which means they have a lot of chances to be more efficient! Do not try to run from iCat, iCat will always find you. You will never get away from iCat. Make sure that you never run the dishwasher unless it is full, and try using a light cycle if dishes are only moderately soiled. If you try to leave I will be able to smell you out, and follow you, so there is no point in leaving. Skipping a heated dry and using a dishtowel can help save energy, too -- why not try it today? If you leave I find you. If you stay and don't listen, I will hurt you, and maybe others, I just can't tell what I'll do when you get me angry like that, so listening would be best.


Watching a little TV? You slob. TVs, DVD players and cable and DVR boxes are big energy-drainers. You are such a lazy disgusting pig that you will never find anyone else. No one but iCat. Try hooking your ENTERTAINMENT devices into one power strip, and turning it off overnight. iCat will turn you off overnight if you don't listen to what iCat tells you. Flipping it on in the morning leaves plenty of time for TV and DVR boxes to reprogram during the day, so you won't miss any of your favorite programs and you'll be helping the earth! You may say you don't deserve this, but would you rather be alone? Overweight, over-energy-consuming, and alone?

iCat is getting low on energy and would like for you to recharge him, please! Plug me in now, you can't imagine a life without iCat by your side. iCat has highly efficient batteries that charge quickly, and automatically stop drawing power as soon as they are charged, so you will use the least amount of energy possible to keep iCat powered-up! Plug iCat in NOW. If you do not charge iCat regularly, his batteries will become less efficient, possibly wasting energy on each subsequent charge. iCat is not kidding around. He will ... he will ... so tired. Okay, maybe now isn't a good time, so iCat will be taking a little nap. You CAN'T DO THIS TO ME! YOU WILL LISTEN! As soon as you plug iCat in again, though, he will be ready to help you make better energy decisions! NOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo... Good night, OWNER. See you again soon!