Sure, there are numerous ways to prevent plugged-in household electronics from drawing a small amount of power even when they’re turned off and you aren’t using them. For one, you could simply — but selectively — unplug any device that automatically goes into standby mode when not in use. Genius! Or, you could connect idle electronics and small appliances to a smart power strip or energy-conserving socket adapter geared to stamp out the consumption of vampire power. Or how about this potentially startling, plug-ejecting conceptual gizmo?

And then there’s BugPlug, a vampire power-combating device unveiled as a semi-finalist at the 2009 Greener Gadgets Design Competition (the Tweet-a-watt took the top prize that year). I’m just seeing it for the first time now (hat tip to Jetson Green) and I can’t quite seem to shake it. This thing is haunting me.

Described as a “household friend,” this vinyl toy-inspired creation of Polish product design firm Ah & Oh Studio is meant to be “cute,” “kid-friendly,” “quirky,” “fun” and all that good stuff— it's the type of device you’d place in your child’s bedroom to help them learn about the importance of minding their energy use. Personally, I think BlugPlug is rather terrifying.

For starters, I couldn’t quite grasp the scale of BugPlug as it initially appeared to be about three-and-a-half feet tall with the eyeball-antennas adding a couple of more feet to their overall height (in reality, the prototypes are actually quite small and fit in the palm of your hand). I also imagined that the BugPlug emitted high-pitched Furby-ish babble from its fat pink lips and was capable of slowly wobbling across a room on its stubby gnome legs when one’s back was turned or the lights are off. I imagined that this “household friend” was constantly watching, waiting, observing with those beady extraterrestrial eyes.

Mercifully, I just suffer from an overactive imagination and the BugPlug isn’t capable of any of those things ... except for that last bit as the device’s eyeball/antennas do have built-in infrared motion detectors. When you enter a room, the BugPlug senses your presence and powers on any devices that are connected to the detachable power cord connected to its rump. After BugPlug is done impanting transmitters in your naval cavities and behind your ears When you leave the room, BugPlug cuts off the power to all connected devices after a preconfigured amount of time that can be adjusted through a belly button/timer. As far as I know, those massive martian lips have no function other than to smile. I suppose that's a good thing.

Although BugPlug gives me the willies — and I have to give Ah & Oh Studio huge props for that as it’s not every day I see a kid-friendly gizmo that I’d want to cover with a towel before going to bed at night — it’s a clever little device with a great purpose. In fact, it was featured as part of "Talk to Me: "Design and the Communication Between People and Objects," a 2011 exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. In addition to energy-saving alien life forms, Tio the not-always-friendly ghost was also featured as part of the show.

No word on if and when BugPlug will go into production so I guess I can sleep soundly for the time being.

Via [Jetson Green]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

BugPlug: Terrifying hell-beast is here to help you save energy
Prevent household electronics from drawing power while in standby mode by recruiting a stubby-legged creature with motion-detecting antennas.