Pavlov Poke

Hopelessly addicted to email, social networking, or other online distractions?
Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff created Pavlov Poke to wean themselves off Facebook and finish their dissertations.

How does it work?

The design is simple. There are four important components:

  • UI Inspector: You need something to monitor computer application usage. We use the Mac's UI Inspector.
  • Processing Code: If a distracting site is visited too frequently, a Processing script produces an on-screen alert.
  • Arduino: An Arduino is connected via USB to the computer. When a shock is triggered, the Arduino activates a relay and starts the shock circuit. If you want more info on how to build a shock circuit, check out this fine tutorial.
  • Electrodes: Conductive metal strips are placed on the keypad. When the Arduino relay is triggered, a current is sent through the strips and through palm of your hand. Ouch!!!

Wait, shocks not creepy enough for you?

How about having a total stranger call you up and yell at you?

To our knowledge, this is the first system ever designed to prank call yourself! And its pretty easy to build. All you need is:

  • UI Inspector: You need this to monitor computer application usage.
  • Python Script: If you look at a site too frequently (e.g., Facebook), a python script automatically posts a job to Amazon's Mechanical Turk - a crowdsourcing labor market. 
  • Mechanical Turk: On Mechanical Turk, a worker automatically gets recruited to call you up and yell at you.


  • Design and Engineering: Robert R. Morris and Daniel McDuff
  • Video Production: Zayde Buti, Paula Aguilera, and Jonathan Williams
  • Typeface Design: Victor Bagu
  • Scary Music: Mike Koenig