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Rigged smartphone brings electromagnetic fields to life

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July 3, 2013

A MacBook's electromagnetic field brought to life (Video still: Luke Sturgeon and Shamik R...

A MacBook's electromagnetic field brought to life (Video still: Luke Sturgeon and Shamik Ray)

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By rigging an Android smartphone as an electromagnetic field indicator, interaction designers Luke Sturgeon and Shamik Ray have visualized the fields around everyday electronics using long-exposure photography and stop-motion animation. The results are fascinating and beautiful.

In a video uploaded to Vimeo, the duo reveal aspects of their method and their results. But for a small slit, the screen of the Android smartphone has been entirely covered. With a camera set to long exposure, the handset is slid over the device (a Macbook for example), and the visible slit shows a series of colored dots which apparently relate to the EMF field.

Using what appears to be a separate program, a circle on the phone's screen appears to expand according to EMF intensity. The pair used the Processing open source programming language, which was designed for creative and visual projects.

Without knowing exactly what the dots mean, perhaps one shouldn't take the pictures as a literal visualization of the fields' forms, especially since the patterns created will be highly dependent on how the phone has been moved. But as a work of art, this is hardly the point.

Here's that video ...

Source: Luke Sturgeon (Vimeo) via Creators Project

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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