info.pieces is a completely self-contained digital broadcast platform that does not exist online. By broadcasting a digital network that can only be accessed by being physically near it, it offers an unregulated and anonymous alternative to the pervasively surveilled networks we are accustomed to. The info. pieces platform utilizes London Underground’s tunnels as a vehicle for spreading information in order to educate people about data surveillance through the use of portable wi-fi networks. When connected to them, it invites commuters to participate in an interactive narrative, designed to explore the topic of how the data we produce affects our daily lives and the fundamental need to employ transparent privacy laws regarding it.
What did you create?
Back-end: Standalone server hosted on a RaspberryPi, which broadcasts a Wi-Fi Hotspot with a Captive Portal, which redirects viewers/ passengers to an HTML-based web narrative. The narrative focuses on specific issues of data surveillance, how our data is being used without our knowledge and methods for counteracting that. The backend also consists of auxiliary Arduino-based chip, which broadcasts fake wi-fi hotspots and a power bank to keep everything running. All of which is contained in a custom 3D enclosure. Front-end: A small TFT display wired to an Arduino Nano Board displaying a simple hard-coded message which invites people to join the Wi-Fi Hotspot. Custom 3D-printed enclosure, with magnetic inserts and space for a 9V battery, which enables it to be entirely self-contained and attach to the handrails on tube carriages.
Why did you make it?
The outcome of this project stemmed from a research experiment, focused on analyzing the metadata in captured wi-fi signals. The outcomes of which, showed that a large quantity of information can be gathered just by collecting wi-fi signals, such as daily IoT activities, known networks to which a specific user connects to, and etc. The experiment also revealed a lot of vulnerabilities regarding data privacy and surveillance. Reverse-engineering the same methodologies employed to collect signals, I began broadcasting signals instead, trying to promote greater awareness about the way our data is being dispersed and handled. The outcome of this project is to create a better understanding of how technology and data affect our daily lives and ways to counteract that.
How did you make it?
I used Linux and some light scripts in order to host the server. HTML coding and graphic design for the user experience of the narrative. Arduino coding for both the Wi-Fi chip and Front-End board. Soldering and wiring for the front end. 3D Design and Printing for all of the relevant enclosures. I also poured some blood, sweat and a lot of tears in the mix.
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