×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Light Painting Wi-Fi

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the light-means-might dept.

Wireless Networking 65

dostojevski78 writes "Some Norwegian art students built this gizmo to visualize wi-fi signal strength in the city streets. The result is simply beautiful. Who said technology can't be aesthetically pleasing?"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

65 comments

I know who. (5, Funny)

Siberwulf (921893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507212)

Who said technology can't be aesthetically pleasing?

Pretty sure it was Roger Ebert.

Re:I know who. (0)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507424)

No, he just said video games aren't art, and he's right, and the video game industry agrees with him.

They may include things that are artistic, but they aren't art.

Although, having played a little with the Katamari Damacy [kathack.com] plugin, the field may be changing.

Re:I know who. (1)

Siberwulf (921893) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507470)

Let's not muddy up humor with fact, mmkay? ;)

Re:I know who. (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508186)

Quick. Arrest the guy and seize the equipment.

We need to check whether he's capturing signal strength or just appearing to do so while capturing and storing packets from all these networks to datamine for user names and passwords later, just like Google was!

Re:I know who. (2)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507782)

No, he just said video games aren't art, and he's right...

Portal.

Re:I know who. (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508918)

also heavy rain. Also the argument is stupid anyway. Art really is the creation of anything with any intent behind it. The artistic value of different creations is subjective, the fact that it is art is not. The idea of video games not being art is essentially anti functional art. A painting has no function aside from being a vessel for the intentions behind the art. A cathedral, aside from being architecturally beautiful also functions as a space to be in to be used by people. A game is a creation that is to be experienced. Now, we can all argue all day about why you think some games are crap vs others but lets not muddy the meaning of the word art.

Re:I know who. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35508284)

No, he just said video games aren't art, and he's right, and the video game industry agrees with him.

Ridiculous. No reasonable definition of art can include books, paintings, movies, and poems, but exclude video games. I think people get confused because (a) they're Luddites, or (b) the vast majority of video games are terrible art.

Re:I know who. (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35511230)

you might as well say thought does not exist.

art is one of those things that can not be defined, unless you wish to be proven wrong.

art is different to everybody. saying one person's art is not art is like saying their god is not god. it means nothing.

Re:I know who. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35513378)

art is in the eyes of the beholder. imho the mona lisa is shit, but i still call it art (albeit shit art) computer games do contain art... look at the cinematics of Blizzard's StarCraft (also its terrain graphics are pretty neat too) how the hell can something be artistic but not be art? (and no stupid/irrelevant analogies please) anything can be a work of art, even cloud formations ...or the programming of the computer games that you don't consider worthy of the title of "art" art needn't be created directly and solely by the hand of man what if i produced a painting and told you it was painted by a monkey? would you then decide that despite being artistic that it wasn't art? some of the best art is so because it isn't obvious how it was created... just like the "illusion" of magic tricks (which is also art by the way)

Re:I know who. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35513566)

No, he just said video games aren't art, and he's right...

Really?
Feng Zhu Design [youtube.com]

Sure beats black square on white background...

I like the concept, just not the application (3, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507288)

Knowing the difference in signal strength along 100 feet of sidewalk is pretty useless. Just throwing out an idea, I think it would be neat to use a NASA-ish artificially colored satellite view of a city. At different points; record say three different metrics; secured network strength, open network strength, and say number of networks. Assign each an RGB component and color your maps that way. You'd be able to quickly look at a map and determine based on color and intensity the approximate characteristics of WIFI all over a map.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507344)

They're artsy types. Having it be useful would defile their hipster image :p

I like the technology, but to me it amounts to nothing but "Heh, cool concept." and I dont care beyond that.

OpenSignal has a map like what you describe for cell coverage. Installing the free app lets you contribute data too :)
Not sure if it has wifi?

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507504)

OpenSignal shows no coverage anywhere near my house for any carrier, and the nearest AT&T signal is several counties away.

I'd download their app to contribute data, but I don't have an Android and they don't support anything else. It looks like the one guy in my state who downloaded it for his droid used it 3-4 times, tops.

Neat idea, though.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (2)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507560)

but to me it amounts to nothing but "Heh, cool concept." and I dont care beyond that.

I don't mean to be snarky but I'm sure they would say the same thing about half the stuff you do and consider "useful." Not everything has to be a tool. (I'll refrain from using that sentence to set up a snide remark) Some things can just be for enjoyment... e.g. art. I thought it was one of the coolest photographs I've seen in awhile. It's particularly interesting to people who have both an interest in photography and technology.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35510624)

If you dont see that the "useful" comment was humor, you need to have your fun-o-meter checked ;)

Not everything has to be useful, that was the point of the comment. It has long been argued that if something has a purpose other than being art, then it cannot be art.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35510678)

Sorry - I probably should have my fun-o-meter checked. It seems to have been stuck on zero ever since this semester started. (personally, I blame Dynamics)

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35510744)

Ah, the joy of college...

Glad I'm done... There is that pesky thing called "work" that sneaks in when that happens though...

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507402)

Just throwing out an idea, I think it would be neat to use a NASA-ish artificially colored satellite view of a city. At different points; record say three different metrics; secured network strength, open network strength, and say number of networks. Assign each an RGB component and color your maps that way. You'd be able to quickly look at a map and determine based on color and intensity the approximate characteristics of WIFI all over a map.

Very cool idea. You could do this with the data that WiFiFoFum [aspecto-software.com] gathers. It logs all the APs you drive or walk past and then exports to a KML file that Google Earth overlays onto the satellite images. I'm sure someone out there could convert the information into colors pretty easily since all the information that you suggested is included in the file. I managed to get the app just before Apple pulled it off the shelf and its bad ass.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

ebs16 (1069862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507404)

Check out WiGLE: http://wigle.net/ [wigle.net]

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507540)

Wigle.net is the original, largest and best open database of wireless networks. People should check it out and ignore all the proprietary halfassed crap that gets dumped on topics like this all the time. WiFiFoFum? WiFiFoFuckOff. Wigle's Java client is open source, and they have an Android client too.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507418)

I did something a bit like that before by walking around with a laptop, pair of headphones, and a clipboard (I didn't have a GPS unit at the time, so I marked each intersection's corner-points as I passed them and used interpolation; the laptop played a musical sequence through the earphones to give me the data to mark on the clipboard). If I find the map images I made, I'll link to them... of course, I was tracking the number of networks, since that was a better number to use in a highly-network university town.
here [udel.edu] (9/22/2004) is one of the images generated from the data; I know I had other things, but I'm not sure where the datafiles and scripts are, now.
I don't remember what the color coding on the map means, other than the green dots are probably where an open network was available. *shrug*
That particular map includes network names, and I don't remember how I recorded those without a GPS (using festival to output a number corresponding to a sequence point that I could notate on the clipboard where I tracked my location, and saving iwlist scan's output to a corresponding numbered file?)

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507502)

Oh, I do remember that the network name was plotted in roughly the centerpoint of the area where the network was available... that just came back to me.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (3, Interesting)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507648)

I would actually argue that while it may not be useful per se, it is definitely interesting to see how geography affects WIFI signal. I would really like to see a 3d version of this where instead of being, say, 30 rows by 1 column, being 30 rows by 30 columns so that you could have a 3d grid of voxels(?) where height is proportional to signal strength. It would still be artistic yet would paint a better picture of the affects of geography/terrain/building materials on WIFI strength.

(I do kindof wonder how long the signal strength meter takes to update and if it's enough for this to actually correlate accurately to the current position)

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#35514340)

It still wouldn't be a good representation, as the measurement isn't taken from multiple points on the row, it's a single point, and the height of the graph equals the signal strength of that single point, so you're not getting a 3d map, but a 2d map as it's a sensor strapped to his back that's taking the measurement.

If you want a real 3d map of wireless connectivity, you'd need to take 3 - 5 measurements per spot at different heights, and have very accurate gps location data per measurement, and via computers build up a real 3d map of networks and add all kinds of neat information like number of networks, intensity per network, openness/non-openness of networks and so on.

You shouldn't then forget the cellphone networks - or radio networks, and if you've already started measuring these, then the next step would be to measure all radiation just to show how much is natural and how much is technological and how things around us affect these things.

But that's perhaps a tad more difficult, would be interesting to see how and if it would work though.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35516252)

It would be 3d because its time lapsed. By moving about in a 3d space, samples within a 3d space would be projected into a single frame of reference (the picture).

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35521840)

Dimension One: position on x-axis
Dimension Two: position on y-axis
Dimension Three: signal strength

The dimensions don't have to be of the same form to be considered three-dimensional. People make the third dimension something non-positional all the time on 3D graphs.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35521970)

I understand that it's only a 2d scalar field, if that's what you're saying, but it's still a 3d plot. It just only paints us a picture of the signal strength of a points on a 2d plane. It would still be better than the current implementation of a 2d scalar field of a one-dimensional line.

Alternatively, though, I guess they could have full-color lights and strength meters next to every light and change colors based on signal strength at every single point. That would be a 3d plot of a 3d scalar field.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (2)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507652)

I thought the images were pretty cool looking. But for me, they never really seemed to capture an image which really showed its potential. They needed to position the camera such that it was an 3D isometric view and take pictures around interesting geography and buildings such that you can get a sense of how the geography and distance are playing a significant role in the observed signal strength.

To some degree you could see this. For example, when they walked past windows you could see the strength rise. When they walked past walls and stretches without windows the signal quickly fell off. Would have been really nice to see that projected out into 3D rather than just 2D in a 3D scene.

And of course, it would be neat if they had a different color of lights which indicated SNR relative to the strength they are presenting.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507944)

The more I think about it, the more it seems that 3D would get pretty expensive and time consuming. (despite how awesome it would be)

Also, I just noticed where they did two "trials" along the same path and the output was completely different. That suggests that either the signal measuring device is too slow to be accurate or that the field is constantly changing. I suppose since data is sent in packets and that networks probably only broadcast their presence in bursts that it's the latter, making this whole thing unlikely to tells us anything about the affect of geography on signal strength. The only way I can think of to do this relatively accurately would be to have a one big string of these things and keep them completely fixed and use the long exposure to give you an average of sorts.

Still cool, though, from a photography perspective.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507992)

I just saw your reply to my comment right after I posted this. Someone mentioned it in the comments of the linked article as well. I'm sure at some point someone somewhere will build one.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508032)

Link to the two trials with different output:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timo/5481044733/in/photostream/lightbox/ [flickr.com]
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timo/5481047867/in/photostream/lightbox/ [flickr.com]

They follow the exact same path and yet the graph of bars are completely different. Almost opposite, really... I obviously expected there to be some variance, but these are not even close.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508088)

Maybe they could have the person pause his or her movement at every "measurement" long enough to sample the data so that they could just flash up the maximum signal strength over a period of time. They'd just have to make some simple adjustments to their shutter speed and aperture on the camera to allow for the longer time but I think it would be a little more accurate. Obviously that would involve a significant code rewrite, though.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35510598)

Maybe they measured signal strengths in two different networks?

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

the_hellspawn (908071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508856)

That would be a great idea. A criminal with half a brain would know who has some money and who don't all based on the number of wifi signals in an area of town.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35509850)

Won't the Census tell you that stuff by ZIP code? Anyway, I'm not sure that wi-fi is such a great indicator of wealth. I think I'd go with a Lexus Index or something.

Re:I like the concept, just not the application (1)

the_hellspawn (908071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35516700)

Zip codes are large. Wi-fi indicates wireless technology. The poorer neighborhoods would have less wi-fi signals then wealthy ones. Therefore, by looking at wi-fi concentrations a person could deduct that there is more wealth in one neighborhood over another neighborhood.

Slow news day? (1, Insightful)

pahles (701275) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507366)

I saw this already in February on another site...

The effect is cool however!

Re:Slow news day? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507398)

Super-slow. Must not be any nuclear reactors threatening to explode anywhere on the planet.

Source code comments (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35507400)

Look at the unnecessary source code commenting at 01:56! LOL!

Re:Source code comments (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507780)

Common practice in academia.
I dont see the problem with making sure the constants are well documented.

I'd link you a trollface but I cant be arsed :p

Re:Source code comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35509146)

i = 1; // Set i to 1

I'm famous! (2)

DeeZee (84216) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507450)

Or at least my Wi-Fi network is. They used my building about two minutes in :)

Re:I'm famous! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35507698)

citation needed

Re:I'm famous! (1)

mmj638 (905944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35510798)

It would be cool if they displayed not only signal strength, but the WPA passphrase too.

I was just thinking about this earlier today (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507594)

I'd like a device roughly the size of a key fob or an old simple (not text) pager (anybody remember those?) that would have GSM, CDMA, and 802.11n circuitry in it, that would simply tell me based on standing where I presently am, how strong the various mobile wireless signals are.

I could stand in the place where I am...now face north, think about direction, wonder why I have no signal now.

Can we get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35507814)

This as an overlay onto Google Street View...

Reminds me of a commercial. (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507826)

More bars, in more places. That's wifi.

Question? (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35507990)

I didn't understand when they showed overlaps in the signal. The picture would show a certain "level" then a second pic of the same area would then show a completely different level. Did they switch networks? I initially assumed they were measuring the signal of all the wifi in the area. I must have missed that part and it left me wondering how accurate the whole production was.

Re:Question? (1)

audunr (906697) | more than 3 years ago | (#35509102)

I saw this on tv the other day, they were talking about how the signal went down and then up as they moved between areas with different wireless networks. So it must be the strength of all networks.

Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35508016)

Is that video ever annoying.

Light painting video plugin (1)

certron (57841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508214)

I was wondering how best to take long exposure images and not have the dark areas be over-exposed a while ago and I just came across this light-painting plugin for the video editor KDEnlive: http://www.kdenlive.org/users/granjow/light-graffiti-2nd [kdenlive.org] Their plugin demo video is pretty neat and I would assume could be applied to video that has already been filmed and properly modified to enhance the brighter areas.

Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35508272)

People need to do more with the Arduino then control LEDs despite whatever the input is.

forget night vision goggles, i want 'nems' goggles (1)

poptart (145881) | more than 3 years ago | (#35508356)

i imagine a set of 'wifi-vision goggles' or, more generally, non-visible electro-magnetic spectrum goggles. when you look through the goggles, you see the normal world with overlays of different colors representing different parts of the non-visible (to humans) electromagnetic spectrum, with the brightness proportional to the signal strength.

if 3d edge detection is possible, then render a surface as well.

you could filter individual wifi channels, or filter for other bands such as vhf/uhf television, am/fm radio frequencies, microwave ovens, etc.

alas, too many projects and not enough time.

Re:forget night vision goggles, i want 'nems' gogg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35509090)

Aaaaah... augmented wifi overlays ... some VoiP freeloader or Middle-east anonimity seekers will eventually scratch this itch. If we're lucky, it will become another get-rich-quick Android market app.

Imagine this: spin your phone around veeeery slowly once or twice. Then the app highlights unsecured networks it. It proceeds to connect to eliminate those annoying false positives that are mac-address-locked. If it can get an IP and ping youtube.com from there, it's succeeded. At that point it activates your VoiP app so you can make quick and free calls that seem to originate from someone else's LAN.

Too easily impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35512060)

Beautiful? It looks pretty bland.

What does radio look like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35518872)

I've imagined what radio would look like if we could see it. Considering it is just Electromagnetic Radiation just like visible light it would look very similar except that different materials would be transparent/opaque to it versus visible light. Since radio is past the red side of the visible spectrum we'll just say the light looks like a very bright red.

So objects that emit radio waves would glow bright red like a heated coil or incandescent light bulb. Imagine a radio tower shining like a blindingly bright lighthouse. Objects that radio travel through easily through would look transparent like glass. Objects that absorb/reflect radio waves would be more opaque.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...