Enter Details

Comment on stories, receive email newsletters & alerts.

This is your permanent identity for Business Insider Australia
Your email must be valid for account activation
Minimum of 8 standard keyboard characters


Email newsletters but will contain a brief summary of our top stories and news alerts.

Forgotten Password

Enter Details

Back to log in

One Man Made Art From His WiFi Signals, And The Results Are Stunning

Hi res horizontal 3 Digital EtherealDigital Ethereal

Luis Hernan was always curious about how wireless technologies like radio are transmitted through the air.

So after finishing up his studies in architecture, computer science, and design, Hernan decided to research these invisible signals through a PhD at Newcastle University.

“I was very curious about this idea of the invisible signals that surround us all the time so I wanted to explore that,” Hernan told Business Insider. “I was really interested in how they would look if we were able to see them.”

Hernan set up a system that turned the wireless signals around him into colourful, ghostlike images using long-exposure photography, allowing people to see the strength of the signals around them. The results are documented in his project Digital Ethereal.

Hernan's thesis says there are different ways in which we can see or imagine different technologies.

His goal with the project is to make the invisible visible.

The first thing Hernan did was create a device that measures the signal strength of Wi-Fi and translates it to a sort of heatmap of colours.

So red represents the strongest signals and blue represents the weakest.

The device works similarly to your smartphone or computer, as it detects nearby Wi-Fi and lets you know how many bars of strength it has.

Then he used long-exposure photography to capture the ghostly images of the colourful Wi-Fi signals.

He makes different shapes by moving his device in different ways across the scene he's capturing.

He'll move the device around his body to see how the signals interact with it.

In a recent exhibit of his work, Hernan also hung up smartphones that ran an app that displayed different colours based on the strength of the surrounding Wi-Fi signal.

The colour changes as the Wi-Fi gets weaker and stronger.

And they also emitted different sounds when the strength level changed.

Now that he's got the imagery down, Hernan is thinking about ways he could represent wireless signals through sound.

'We know certain spaces have strong signals, certain have weak signals, and we kind of modify our behaviour based on that, and I think there are different opportunities to use these signals to interact,' Hernan said.

'That's my end goal, creating a new way to think about these technologies.'

Now want to make your own art?

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at