This Is What Wi-Fi Networks Really Look Like

Long exposure photography is plenty awesome on its own. But pair it with a staff that lights up according to how strong Wi-Fi signal is and you get something even more illuminating: a picture of what Wi-Fi networks really look like.

The 12-foot rod, designed by tinkerers Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen, and Einar Sneve Martinussen, has 80 LED lights that pulse higher and lower with the strength of a given network. When combined with long-exposure photography, it uncovers the invisible world of Wi-Fi. Their first tests were conducted over the course of three weeks and mapped out the networks of Oslo.

The strength, consistency and reach of the network says something about the built environment where it is set up, as well as reflecting the size and status of the host. Small, domestic networks in old apartment buildings flow into the streets in different ways than the networks of large institutions. Dense residential areas have more, but shorter range networks than parks and campuses.

The group hopes to expand their work and Martinussen is writing a book on the relationship between phyical landscapes and digital experiences. I encourage them to rewire their staff for 3G and come map AT&T's network here in New York City for their second case study. [Flickr and YOUrban via Designboom]