Radio and internet signals are constantly traveling, and even if we can’t see them, the world is filled with electromagnetic waves. A Netherlands-based designer Richard Vijgen wants to make the invisible accessible, so he created an app called Architecture of Radio that offers captivating visualizations of the complex web of technological activity that surrounds us.
Architecture of Radio reveals something Vijgen calls the “infosphere,” which he defines thusly:
“The infosphere refers to an interdependent environment, like a biosphere, that is populated by informational entities. While an example of the sphere of information is cyberspace, infospheres are not limited to purely online environments.”
Vijgen’s infosphere comes from a dataset of 7 million cell towers, 19 million wifi routers, and hundreds of satellites. Based on your GPS location, the app visualizes what all that floating activity looks like — it’s not actually a depiction of the electromagnetic waves.
So the app is more like augmented reality, providing only an approximation of what could be around you. With such an extensive set of information, however, it’s as good of a guess as there may be.
Architecture of Radio does work well with your immediate surroundings. For example, there’s more activity on the app when pointed at an actual wifi router. It will also try to guess your mobile carrier when pointed at a cell phone — even if I actually have Verizon. It’ll then tell you where you’re getting your service from.
It also won’t pick up on much if you point it at the floor because, well, there’s not as much activity going on there.
The Architecture of Radio app, while not entirely accurate, makes something unseen visible, which is very cool. It’s a reminder that there’s a lot of beauty in the world that we can’t see.