It is both amazing and disconcerting to know that we are surrounded by an invisible architecture of radio waves and digital networks that is hidden to the human eye.
Richard Vijgen is offering everyone a window into this Wi-Fi world. The Dutch designer has created an app that illustrates the network of networks, enabling us to visualise the psychedelic signals given out by mobile phones, tablets and laptops: “Architecture of Radio allows us to see an important part of our world that we normally cannot see,” he tells us. “The dataset includes almost seven million cell towers, 19 million Wi-Fi routers and hundreds of satellites.”
Combining three data sources, the app merges renderings of the surrounding data webs in the ‘infosphere’ to make a 360-degree physical portrait of signals – using locator technologies from GPS and finding mobile masts through OpenCellID and NASA’s public satellite feeds. The visualisations hide everything we can normally see and instead reveal the technological landscape we interact with daily. Each broadcast has a specific audio signal linked to it, which gives it an otherworldly vibe.
Described as everything from “beautiful” to “deeply disturbing” (Business Insider) and like entering “the Matrix” (Fast Company), there is no doubt this offers a very real – albeit futuristic – glimpse into that what we have ourselves created. “The world of radio signals is becoming even more important in a future when everything is connected to everything and everyone,” Vijgen says. “I hope that by visualising the world of wireless it becomes easier for people to relate to it.”