While technologists scramble to develop technologies for the production and storage of environmentally friendly electricity, it is also important to address our personal role in conserving energy. Indeed, thermodynamics shows that we can't get energy without spending it, and while great efficiencies may be found in energy generation, it is clear that the most substantial way to solve the energy crisis is by reducing demand.
While reformulating lifestyle and habits is usually thought to be the job of media, public relations, and activism, there is no reason that technology should not be central to how we understand, consider, and change our own energy usage. Most of us are unable to pay close attention to our own power consumption in our busy daily lives. Indeed, the purpose of consumer products is to make laborious tasks as simple and easy as possible by replacing a consumer's own energy with electricity or fossil fuels. As a result, it's easy for us to avoid personal responsibility in the global climate crisis. This can produce feelings of guilt and self-reproach in the consumer. Project Thigh Master is a system that alleviates this condition by assuring that reminders to save electricity will not go unnoticed, increasing its owner's peace of mind by setting a penalty for environmental waste.
The system consists of a personal techno-garter -- inspired by the Opus Dei cilice popularized in Dan Brown's Davinci Code -- worn on the thigh, communicating wirelessly to a set of low-power sensors measuring the wearer’s personal energy consumption. If the wearer’s electricity use exceeds a certain limit, the device plunges stainless-steel thorns into the wearer's thigh, a reminder of their complicity in the planet's demise, and perhaps their own mortality.
Thigh Master aims to balance comfort and discomfort in a meaningful way in order to achieve sustainable change. Packaged in the form of yet another personal electronic device, the system helps people to break out of inefficient consumption patterns. But in addition to decreasing a user's energy use, Thigh Master can also provide relief for the less easily measured -- but no less real -- feeling of individual powerlessness in the face of accelerated climate change.