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wifi_light_painting.jpg
Revealing inherently invisible and abstract data on a computer screen is one thing. But making it immediate and tangible in physical reality is another. There have been a few great attempts to accomplish just that, such as those that revealed the Readable Volume in the Field of a RFID Reader, or Overlaying Urban Images with Wireless Technology. This project is the next step, larger and more spatially relevant as never before.

By combining a stick full of WiFi sensor-connected LED lights with a long-term photo exposure, Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen achieved a physical life-size bar graph of sorts in their project "Immaterials: Light painting WiFi" [yourban.no].

In essence, they built a 4-meter long WiFi measuring rod that visualizes the overall WiFi signal strength as a bar of lights on a specific location. When moved through space, the rod displays the changes in the WiFi signal by changing the number of the lights that light up. As a result, long-exposure photographs of the moving rod reveal cross sections of a network's signal strength. The light of the measuring rod pulses as it is being moved, which creates dashed lines rather than solid ones. This creates a semi-transparent texture that allows the visualization to appear within the physical setting without covering it.

Enjoy the pictures or watch the movie below.

Via Flowing Data.

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3 COMMENTS

Amazing work!

Mon 07 Mar 2011 at 4:02 AM

It's pretty, but my problem with it is that it's not clear what has been measured. There is a different signal strength in every point in space, but they visualize it as if only the position on the horizontal plane was important. But there is probably a different strength at the top of the bar than at the bottom. So I would have used a single receiver/light module that only varies in intensity and move it around on two axes instead of the bar on one.

Mon 07 Mar 2011 at 1:14 PM
pascal

pascal raises good points - in response to the actual device location, one could use a different color light to denote the actual height of the device, taking average height of device usage (ear-level, waist-level) into account. in response to the 2D question, i think the project is more about a concept representation than an exhaustive measurement system. if you did want to measure exhaustively, you could multiple passes and simple spatial measurement hardware (even a hacked wii remote and sensor bar) and interpolation algorithms to build a comprehensive 3D map of signal strength. but yes, amazing work

Thu 10 Mar 2011 at 3:15 AM
Malcolm
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