When you are looking for that cell signal, or better yet, a Wi-Fi signal, the times we live in could excuse you for imagining what it might actually look like if we were able to visually perceive available Internet access as waves make their way from the multiple hotspots surrounding you. Color blue would perhaps signal a fast but encrypted connection, green would symbolize a potentially ‘Excellent’ connection, with red symbolizing ‘Poor’, or an unsafe, open connection.
Tell this to a group of friends and they’ll think you’re high up (on something). This though, is not a concept off Harold and Kumar’s tale book. Turns out, someone has already, or rather is in the process of turning it into reality. No kidding.
As you may have imagined during ‘your moment’, that invisible world of waves and webs from satellites, routers, cell towers and other transmission medium would have, and does, look beautiful. For it is not the stuff of Matrix, or Sci-fi.
Let there be Wave Signals
This out-of-the-box (box aside?) thinking-cum-reality is courtesy of one Dutch gentleman who goes by the name Richard Vijgen, and he calls it the Architecture of Radio. Originally it was intended as an app for iOS, but Android has been included in the mix too. An interactive producer by occupation, you’ll find his stuff here.
The app employs a vast array of data sources to visualize the entire communications networks in a given location. For example, when you want to see cell signals, the app grabs tower locations within your vicinity from OpenCellID, the open collaborative map of cell towers. What about satellite signals? Word from Creative Applications says the app uses Ephemeris – a satellite location system used by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory – to calculate the location of in-orbit craft.
The app is yet to be released although a video demo is out to offer a sneak peek into how it works. To dumb it down for us, Vijgen says it’s not a ‘full measurement of the entire radio spectrum’ per se, but rather a theoretical simulation drawn from radiation models that the app calculates depending on the distance between the transmitter and where you’re at.
This is truly the frontier of human thought. It serves as a thought-provoking reminder that the systems this world relies on are just around us. It’s just that you can’t touch, feel or see them.