Open Informant takes on surveillance in a networked age

Open Informant – powered by an Arduino Pro Mini (Atmel ATmega168) – is a wearable badge with an e-ink display that “attempts to confront the unsettling realities of surveillance in a networked age.”

Designed by the Superflux crew, the device was recently exhibited at the Wearable Futures 2013 Conference.

“Open Informant is [both] a phone app and e-ink badge. The app searches your communications for NSA trigger words and then sends text fragments containing these words to the badge for public display,” a Superflux rep explained in a recent blog post.

“Using the body as an instrument for protest, the badge becomes a means of rendering our own voice visible in an otherwise faceless technological panopticon. By openly displaying what is currently taken by forceful stealth, we question the intrusive forms of mass surveillance adopted by democratic nations on its own citizenry, and in the process, shift the conversation around wearables from being about you and your body as machine, to the culture of machine intelligence and algorithmic monitoring.”

According to the Superflux rep, the aesthetics of the wearable device are purposefully embedded in popular DIY Maker culture to encourage greater adoption and use. As such, all aspects of the badge’s design and construction are available on Github for DIY Makers to use and mod.

It should be noted that the Open Informant was recently featured on the official Arduino blog.

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