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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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