This is one of those things I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind. How far does a WiFi network actually reach and what would it look like? How come I have reception in one spot and not in another? Well a team from Oslo including Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen, and Einar Sneve Martinussen set out to answer just such a question by creating visual representations of actual Wifi networks to spectacular effect. Utilizing long-exposure photography and a four-metre long measuring rod with 80 LED light points they were able to “reveal” cross-sections in wireless networks.
We built the WiFi measuring rod, a 4-metre tall probe containing 80 lights that respond to the Received Signal Strength (RSSI) of a particular WiFi network. When we walk through architectural, urban spaces with this probe, while taking long-exposure photographs, we visualise the cross-sections, or strata, of WiFi signal strength, situated within photographic urban scenes. The cross-sections are an abstraction of WiFi signal strength, a line graph of RSSI across physical space. Although it can be used to determine actual signal strength at a given point, it is much more interesting as a way of seeing the overall pattern, the relative peaks and the troughs situated in the surrounding physical space.