Energy Medicine

Whirling Wi-Fi: Vibrant images reveal how wireless networks sweep and surround us

A student has produced a series of vivid photographs that reveal what the networks that keep us connected to the web look like. The images, created by Luis Hernan from Newcastle University, show spectres of Wi-Fi sweeping and swirling around in bright beams. They were produced as part of Hernan’s Digital Ethereal project, which aims to bring the invisible world around us to life.

Newcastle University student Luis Hernan produced these photographs of the invisible wireless networks as part of his studies. Hernan, who is studying for a PhD in Architecture and Interactive Design, used self-designed equipment to create the images

The images show how Wi-Fi signals of different strengths surround objects and people. They were created using a programme that changes colour depending on the strength of a signal - blue is strongest, ranging to red at the other end of the scale

Luis, who is studying for a PhD in Architecture and Interaction Design, said he is fascinated with the idea of being able to see the hidden wireless networks which surround us. ‘I call the images “spectres” because wireless networks remind me of ghosts,’ he said. ‘They are there but you can’t see them with the human eye.

‘The fact we are becoming increasingly reliant on something that we can’t see intrigues me. I wanted to find a way to show the wireless which is around us and also to show how it changes.

‘It is an impossibly fragile and volatile infrastructure that holds our digital technologies together, and shapes the way in which we interact with the digital world.

‘Something as seemingly inconsequential as walking around the house will interfere with and reshape their propagation and strength field. ‘Close the wrong door, and the bedroom becomes a dead spot for wireless.’

Hernan created the photographs using a custom-made instrument designed to reveal them. It scans continuously for wireless networks, and transforms the signal strength to colour LEDs. The results are multi-coloured streaks of light which twirl and wrap in spaces, showing how they surround objects and people.

Hernan has also created an app which can be downloaded for free, for Android devices called Kirlian, which allows people to see the strength of Wi-Fi around them.

He said: ‘I would love other people to get involved and to create their own images using the app.

‘I used it as part of an exhibition of my work, where we hung mobile phones from the ceiling and it showed how signal strength was varying as people moved around the room.’

Published in Mail Online

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