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See The Invisible Wireless Signals Around You

The human eye is remarkable, but it only lets us see a very small sliver of electromagnetic waves. It’s nearly impossible to imagine what our world would look like if we could see beyond the visible spectrum, but a new app called Architecture of Radio does give us a taste.

The app offers an augmented-reality experience: spin your iPhone or iPad around you, and your device will act like a window into a previously invisible world. Spherical wavefronts emanate from wireless routers and distant cell towers. You might even spot a satellite passing overhead.


Those sources and more are all featured in the app — they’re compiled from several public databases. The waves that come from these sources are just estimates based on distance, not actual measurements taken by your device. That means that the visualization is more of an artistic experience than a precise tool for analyzing the electromagnetic radiation around you. But it’s very cool nonetheless.

The app is currently being featured as part of an exhibition by Dutch designer Richard Vijgen at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. Vijgen writes on his website that the app reverses daily experiences by “hiding the visible while revealing the invisible technological landscape we interact with through our devices.” In this way, peering through the frame of your tablet to peer into this world is a bit like something fromThe Matrix.

The iOS app was released earlier this month for $2.99 — Android users will have to wait until the new year to try it out.

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