I Hear You Offer WiFi

We are swimming in radio transmissions from all around, and if you live above the ground floor, they are coming at you from below as well. Humans do not have a sensory organ for recognizing radio signals, but we have lots of hardware which can make sense of it. The chances are good that you are looking at one such device right now. [Frank Swain] has leaped from merely accepting the omnipresent signals from WiFi routers and portable devices to listening in on them. The audio signals are mere soundwaves, so he is not listening to every tweet and email password, merely a representation of the data’s presence. There is a sample below the break, and it sounds like a Geiger counter playing PIN•BOT.

We experience only the most minuscule sliver of information coming at us at any given moment. Machines to hack that gap are not had to find on these pages so [Frank] is in good company. Magnetosensory is a popular choice for people with a poor sense of direction. Echolocation is perfect for fans of Daredevil. Delivering new sensations could be easier than ever with high-resolution tactile displays. Detect some rather intimate data with ‘SHE BON.’

[via New Scientist]


13 thoughts on “I Hear You Offer WiFi

    1. I suspect this is an “art” project, as there should be moreh variation in the signals as he moves around. Also the background track is added is post to make it sound more alien, not for any practical purpose. So this is one of those guys that wants to appear insightful by producing strange art as he has too low self esteem to rely on his goatee to attract girls.

      1. This sounds suspiciously autobiographical.

        But yeah, probably enhanced and edited quite a bit for presentation. Which makes sense. This is obviously for curiosity’s sake, it’s not utilitarian. And most encrypted data bursts don’t sound super nice. Almost indistinguishable from white noise, punctuated by tones and screeches of handshakes and other modem sounds. I’d try it though. Even if it’s useless, I’d like to be able to check out that hidden landscape around us.

        When I started using an old phone line tracer to listen to EM radiated by my circuits, I did it out of mere curiosity. But eventually I found real diagnostic uses for it. The human ear is very good at picking out details at certain baud rates. When something breaks, it can often tell me which parts of the circuit are working and which aren’t. For example, when the high-voltage PSU on a plasma screen went kaput, I could very quickly tell which oscillator was buzzing along as usual and which was dead just by waving my wand over the board–quicker and more intuitive than probing around with an oscilloscope. I also found a sneaky blown fuse when I noticed the sound cut out on one side. Best of all, the lack of physical contact on a powered high-voltage circuit is obviously nice.

        So it can be interesting. Sometimes you realize things you would normally overlook when you force yourself to look at the world from a different perspective. After all, there was a reason old modems once included a speaker that screeched at you.

        1. “After all, there was a reason old modems once included a speaker that screeched at you.”

          Ahh, your words came right out the screen like a fax straight from the 90’s. Rumor has it those fax machines are these days so advanced they actually print out plastic, in 3D no less!

  1. “Humans do not have a sensory organ for recognizing radio signals,”

    Pssst….radio = electromagnetic radiation = photons/E & B waves = light.
    WE call it the visible light spectrum for NO other reason that WE can see it.

    Last I checked, Humans and a whole lot more have eyeballs they use to detect radio signals.
    We also have HEAT sensors all over our bodies, which as infrared, is also “radio signals.”

    It’s the same field and radiation form as electricity, infrared, UV, X-, all those other “radio” rays.

    1. Psst.. all radio is EM, but not all EM is radio. Your eyes and sense of heat don’t operate on wavelengths that would qualify as radar.

      Also I don’t think you’re going to find anyone here who doesn’t already understand what light is.

  2. “Humans do not have a sensory organ for recognizing radio signals”

    Sure we do. Our whole bodies are covered with one. It’s just that the threshold for perception is high enough that you really don’t want to use that sense!

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