In this increasingly environment-aware age we're glad that at least one firm has seen sense and combined the power of ZigBee wireless networking and dung beetles to cut carbon emissions.
NEC is currently using the homes of 100 of its staff in Japan to test a scheme that uses both those splendidly esoteric elements to keep track of domestic energy consumption.
Plug it in
Its 'Carbon Diet' program consists of a monitoring device a participant attaches to his or her home's fuse box and a wireless link from that to a PC and thence online to the mother ship.
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The monitor records how much electricity is being used in the house and where the consumption hotspots might be, before sending the data to the PC by ZigBee, the nascent short-range wireless technology.
Once that data reaches NEC's servers it is presented back to the user in terms of hourly, daily and monthly power consumption and its carbon-emission equivalent.
A competitive incentive comes in the form of charts comparing all competing households against each other. The idea is, of course, to drive participants to get one over on the Joneses.
Fun with dung
Oh, and the dung beetle? NEC decided that friendly competition might be best represented by each household having its own virtual beetle on the Carbon Diet website.
Whichever rolls its pellet of 'carbon' excreta the furthest is carbon king and gets associated bragging rights. After all, what could be more natural?