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© Arkangel / Flirckr
© Arkangel / Flirckr
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A World Without Wi-Fi For When You Need To Disconnect

Picture of Tom Coggins
Updated: 20 October 2016
Dutch designer Richard Vijgen unveiled a new app that charts the frontiers of digital space. White Spots traces the streams of data that surround us and reveals the geographical limits of the internet. It shows that Wi-Fi and radio signals can only reach so far, allowing people to discover places beyond the cloud.

The project is Vijgen’s latest effort to uncover the invisible infrastructure of the internet. Previously, he created the acclaimed Architecture of Radio. This app made the digital world visible, tracing the lines of electronic signals flowing between devices, routers and satellites. White Spots takes a different approach, leading people out of the info-sphere.

The app begins by presenting a window into the digital realm, with an augmented display showing the traffic of data flowing towards your device. Nearby radio towers are represented as white columns emitting spherical bursts of electronic signals, visualizing the density of cellular activity converging around your smartphone. In a populated area, it is likely that you are surrounded by these white columns and the app creates an artificial sense of claustrophobia. Fortunately, by pressing a button labeled ‘get me out’ the app moves beyond this perspective.

© Ryan Bodenstein / Flickr
© Ryan Bodenstein / Flickr

The next mode shows the global digital divide, representing unconnected areas as white spots. By surveying this map you can learn more about people living off the grid. Short videos explore their stories, explaining why they remain offline. Many are unable to access the internet because of geographical constraints, whereas others have chosen to live without information technology. These videos offer an insightful glimpse into the world beyond the cloud, showing different and often unheard perspectives on this ever-expanding phenomenon.

Many of these unconnected locations are relatively close by, and the app uses GPS to locate your nearest white spot. The app will even chart a course to these unwired terrains, showing you the quickest route out of the digital world.

© Johan Larsson / Flickr
© Johan Larsson / Flickr