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Detonate the transparency grenade to instantly collect and leak sensitive data


February 20, 2012

The transparency grenade prior to assembly

The transparency grenade prior to assembly

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If you thought Wikileaks was a disruptive idea, the transparency grenade is going to blow you away. This tiny bit of hardware hidden under the shell shaped like a classic Soviet F1 hand grenade allows you to leak information from anywhere just by pulling a pin. The device is essentially a small computer with a powerful wireless antenna and a microphone. Following detonation, the grenade intercepts local network traffic and captures audio data, then makes the information immediately available online.

The data obtained at the site of detonation streamed anonymously streamed to a dedicated server where it is mined for bits of emails, HTML code, images and audio material. These are then neatly presented in the form of a feed that can be accessed when clicking on the red dot highlighting the place of the leakage on a map available online. The ease of use and the mobility of this solution could make the transparency grenade a very powerful weapon in the hands of a concerned citizen or disgruntled civil servant.

Although designed by Julian Oliver for an arts exhibition, the grenade is much more than a concept. It is very much real and tangible. While the translucent shell has been 3D printed from highly resistant resin, the triggering mechanism and all other metal parts have been carefully handcrafted from silver by Susanne Stauch.

The hardware components include a Gumstix computer fitted with an ARM Cortex-A8 processor and running a modified Angstrom OS. An Arduino Nano platform is used to handle the embedded display, and the spy work is handled by a powerful 802.11 antenna and a 5 mm microphone. The collected data is stored on an 8GB MicroSD card. A 3.7 volt battery powers the whole rig, including a 64 x 32 pixel LCD display and a LED Bargraph to show the wireless signal level.

The grenade form factor may be a great vehicle for artistic expression, but its conspicuous nature makes it slightly impractical - and could see you propelled face first into the pavement by a member of law enforcement. That's why the development of an application for rooted Android devices is already under way. Constantly running in the background on a smartphone, the transparency grenade app is going to provide some of the original device's functionality.

The development process is funded by donations, so you are welcome to contribute to the project. Who knows what implications it may have. If it's used in the right time and place, the transparency grenade's impact zone may be far bigger than that of a regular Soviet F1's.

Source: transparencygrenade via We Make Money Not Art

About the Author
Jan Belezina Formerly in charge of Engadget Poland, Jan Belezina's long time fascination with the advance of new technology has led him to become Gizmag's eyes and ears in Eastern Europe. All articles by Jan Belezina

Sooner or latter we are going to be forced to make hacking/electronic snooping and the rest into capital offenses, clearly these individuals have zero respect for anybodies privacy and are a real and immediate threat to us all. Cyber warfare being waged on us as individuals needs to be addressed with the same zeal as cyber warfare waged on nation states.

Michael Gene

Michael Gene, Just like the governments poisoning our water supplies and dumbing down our populations should be kept secret?

Denis Klanac

Denis Klanac, I would usually say the same thing, though there is a fine line between conspiracy theories and actual concerns. I would call something that can instantly read networks (email, web calls, skype, social networking, and usernames and passwords, among anything else you would be sending or recieving on the internet), scan conversations, and instantly upload these to the internet for anybody to read edging on an actual concern.



what does it intercept, exactly?

wifi, cell signals [3g/4g], bluetooth, what?

what about wired signals?

it can;t decrypt wifi, surely.?



Mike, I'm with you. If the government invaded the public privacy like this people would freak! Oh, it's hackers, ok, that's cool... Well it ain't cool. What is more of a personal invasion than this? Next they'll be hacking our thoughts. As far as capital offenses goes, I agree. Furthermore, I think the writing and/or disemination of viruses should also be a capital offense. Pure evil, no benefit, unless you own a viral defense company. Isn't that just extortion? These people SUCK. Big Time. Slow the whole web down. Good job!


This is all public information anyway. anyone sending data that this will intercept would be free for anyone to look at anyway. it is your own fault for sending data unencrypted.

Chris Hunter

Has the potential to expose many of the clandestine and shady operations conducted throughout the world ....cool. And as Chris Hunter said, if you send important data over the net un-encrypted its your own fault.

Ross Mcewen-Page

If I fail to lock my doors at night, it is my fault, because I know there are thieves waiting for a chance. But the thieves are still thieves, and my actions don\'t change the fact. This is piracy. Invasion of privacy, and wiretapping rolled into one. This is no different than bugging someone\'s office, or home. In addition, this can steal intellectual ideas, patent ideas, special processes, family recipes, and private information. It would greatly help with identity theft. This makes me want to install a broad band jammer, like they install in hospitals to kill cellphones in restricted areas.


Throwing these into a few of the meetings being held by the 98% holding America\'s wealth should be mandatory. Saving a few to throw into the private meetings of the politicians they purchase, might also be useful.


Oh yeah! I\'m now taking orders for Faraday cages (made in original Soviet-style copper mesh with hand-crafted silver doorknobs!). Good prices, excellent service.

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