I really thought I had seen it all … 

From designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau comes a range of conceptual home robo-furnishings that are gruesome, outrageous, barbaric — and I have to admit, kind of brilliant in a nightmarish sci-fi kind of way. Called “Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots,” the collective work of Auger-Loizeau has an appetite … an appetite for the flesh of household pests like flies and mice.

First off, there’s the Fly Paper Clock, a timepiece inspired by Audrey II the insect-trapping Drosera family of plants. The LCD clock features a built-in rolling mechanism equipped with honey-covered flypaper. When a fly or other winged critter hits the flypaper, its captured body moves down to the base of the roller, is scraped off and falls into a microbial fuel cell. From there, the fly corpse is converted into electricity that powers the clock and the clock’s motor/killing machine. No batteries or electrical outlet required.

Then there’s the Lampshade Robot, a LED floor lamp that invites flies and moths to “c’mon in” through its oh-so-alluring shade. The thing is, once the bugs are in the shade, there’s no way out. The sacrificial insects trapped in the lampshade eventually expire and fall into the built-in microbial fuel cell that powers the entire thing. I suppose you could think of the Lampshade Robot as a self-powered bug zapper without the zapping.

Last but not least, there’s the Mouse Trap Coffee Table Robot, a piece of otherwise unremarkable furniture that, yep, traps and eats household rodents. “Honey, get out the cheese ... its time to feed the coffee table again …” I’ll let Auger-Loizeau do the explaining on this one:

A mechanised iris is built into the top of a coffee table. This is attached to an infrared motion sensor. Crumbs and food debris left on the table attract mice that gain access to the tabletop via a hole built into one over size leg. Their motion activates the iris and the mouse falls into the microbial fuel cell housed under the table. This generates the energy to power the iris motor, sensor and a LED graphic display on the front of the table–top.

Yikes. There are a couple of other insect-eating members of “Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots” — the Fly Stealing Robot and the Cobweb Robot — but I’ll get straight to the big question: do you think the work of Auger-Loizeau is totally wrong? Is a serious line crossed here? Should robotic furniture be given the ability to “eat” just like predatory plants and animals? Would you feel any differently if Auger-Loizeau had created "Vegetarian Domestic Entertainment Robots?" that are powered by organic matter of the non-dead animal variety?

While I’m intrigued by the idea, I don’t think I’d ever want any of these items in my home even if they’d help me save on energy while ridding my home of unwanted critters like mice and bugs. I’ll be opting for one of these flying bug traps and one of these humane rodent catchers, thank you very much. And I have to wonder: what happens if your meat-eating furniture consumed all of the target "food" available? Would it cease to function or is there a back-up electrical plug? Should you start to worry about your pets?

If you aren’t already completely outraged/grossed-out, check out the above video and head on over to Auger-Loizeau to learn more. And click here to read NPR's science correspondent Robert Krulwich's (amusingly horrified) reaction to the work of Auger-Loizeau. 

Via [NPR]

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

Furniture with a taste for flesh
British design team Auger-Loizeau creates a line of robotic home furnishings powered by organic matter — the dead bodies of household pests like insects and