Thursday, March 10, 2011


Invisible Wi-Fi signals caught on camera
17:36 9 March 2011

Computer icons can give you an idea of your Wi-Fi signal strength. But now Timo Arnall and a team of designers from the Oslo School of Architecture & Design have created a device that can produce a large scale visualisation of the fluctuating Wi-Fi signals around a city (see video above).

Their latest prototype is a four-metre-tall rod, lined with LEDs, that incorporates a microcontroller and a Wi-Fi connector, used to detect surrounding networks. Once the team chooses a network to focus on, a computer program uses the Wi-Fi module to reveal its signal strength, which is displayed by lighting up an appropriate number of LEDs.

The signal reading is updated every three seconds so a changing bar made of lights is produced as the user walks around with the rod. By setting up a locked-off camera with a long exposure, a light painting that looks like a bar graph is produced over time.

The goal of the project is to create Wi-Fi visualisations that match the scale of the surrounding architecture. "It's a continuation of our exploration of intangible phenomena that have implications both for design and for how products and cities are experienced", says Einar Sneve Martinussen, a member of the team. In a previous project, the team built an instrument that could detect and visualise the radio field around an RFID reader, similar to the ones used in electronic travel cards.

If you enjoyed this video, you might also like to watch a light show that depicts collisions in the Large Hadron Collider.


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