EMF BraceletCati Vaucelle, Hiroshi Ishii, Joe Paradiso / 2008

EMF Bracelet

We present the design of a cost-effective wearable sensor to detect and indicate the strength and other characteristics of the electric field emanating from a laptop display. Our bracelet can provide an immediate awareness of electric fields radiated from an object used frequently. Our technology thus supports awareness of ambient background emanation beyond human perception. We discuss how detection of such radiation might help to “fingerprint” devices and aid in applications that require determination of indoor location.

Today, many people fear electromagnetic fields. They believe that ambient fields can negatively influence their health. Perhaps, by visualizing the presence of common electromagnetic (EM) fields, users might feel in control of difficult-to-perceive information and transcend their fear, beginning the process of recognizing and moving beyond fear. An analogy might be found in the cheap RF power meters that are sold to enable people to gauge radiation leakage from their microwave ovens. Conversely, providing users with blind data could increase their paranoia when low-level field leakage from common appliances is visualized. Clearly, people need to be educated in how to properly interpret this data. Regardless of one’s belief on the health impact of background EM fields, visualizing the unseen in this way always leads to fascinating and playful exploration. All devices emit background signals (electrostatically, magnetically, acoustically, and optically) that are characteristic of particular devices and also sometimes indicate that device’s mode of operation. Indeed, government contracts mandate that computers and displays used in highly classified work be kept in shielded rooms (SCIFs) to thwart espionage that monitors such background leakage fields.

Video published and presented at Ubicomp 2008

More info on the project

Press on Engadget and Make Magazine.

Video

 

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