We’ve all had that annoying experience with friends or family where you sit down for dinner, but everyone’s checking Instagram and tweeting about the new lox & bagel Bloody Mary instead of being together.

Australian pasta sauce brand Dolmio thought it was time to reclaim family dinners, so it came up with the Dolmio Pepper Hacker. It’s a functioning pepper mill with a twist: When you start to grind pepper, it shuts off WiFi, TVs, and other electronic devices to which it’s paired.

How It Works

dolmio system design

According to Mumbrella, an Australian media and marketing site, the device has a similar effect to an electromagnetic pulse—but that’s not what it uses. Using remote device management software, you install a profile on the selected devices to be managed from the pepper grinder. Once that profile is installed, the pepper grinder can then communicate with those devices via an SMS command and shut them off.

Brendan Forster is head of creative technology at Clemenger BBDO, the marketing firm Dolmio worked with to bring this project to life. Forster said:

“Think of it like as when you’re at an organization – they install a profile on your phone so that they can back up information or allow authorized apps, we’ve used that in a really creative way.”

At the moment, though, it’s just a prototype—not something you can expect to see hitting store shelves anytime soon. Forster explained that it’s still in the early phase of development: “At this time it’s a limited number of prototype devices that we’ve built just to basically experiment to see what happens when you remove tech from the family room.”

For the ad campaign in the video you see above, Forster says they used real Australian households and only the moms were in on the secret of the pepper grinder. (Where were the dads? We digress.)

He told Mumbrella:

“The dinner table is one of those moments where the family should be together, and by using the Pepper Cracker in this way, hopefully it starts a bit of a debate about what technology is doing in the home. If Dolmio is part of that then that’s a great thing.”

We want to see a restaurant use the Dolmio pepper grinder, without telling its patrons. Now that would be a great social experiment.

[via PSFK, Mumbrella]