Light-paintings sketch WiFi signals in spectacular display

A team of designer researchers in Norway are investigating the material and spatial qualities of WiFi networks in urban spaces by light painting signal strength in long-exposure photographs.

A team of designer researchers in Norway are investigating the material and spatial qualities of WiFi networks in urban spaces by light painting signal strength in long-exposure photographs.

Credit: Timo Arnall

Credit: Timo Arnall

They've built a 4-meter tall wooden probe with a microcontroller, a WiFi module, and 80 LEDs running the entire length that pulse and raise based on the strength of a selected WiFi network.

After three weeks of light painting in the Günerløkka area of Oslo, Norway, the time-lapse photography of the pulsing lights create a physical representation of the invisible terrain of WiFi networks.

According to the designers, the visualizations demonstrate how networks are both shaped by the environment and influence how urban spaces can be used. Digital qualities we think of as network strength and range are shown as material manifestations.

Credit: Timo Arnall

Credit: Timo Arnall

"The light paintings illustrate how the networked city can be both ubiquitous, messy, informal and seamful, and emphasize how the invisible landscape of networks is another layer of the dense and complex urban contexts we already know," concludes Einar Sneve Martinussen, one of the members involved in the project.

The team plans to expand their research into invisible landscapes to better understand our urban existence through other more widespread technologies including 3G, GSM and radio.

Related:

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Andrea Vaccari inteview: MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory

(Via Singularity Hub)

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