Who doesn’t love some wireless internet? Although we often use it, we rarely consider how it really works. “We use Wi-Fi so many times a day but don’t really know how it works or the complexity of the technology,” says artist Nickolay Lamm. To help put Wi-Fi, this invisible thing we use everyday, into perspective, Lamm and M. Browning Vogel, an astrophysicist and former NASA employee, came up with a creative way to colorfully visualize these Wi-Fi forces powering the internet around us.
Wi-FI is an energy field transmitted through waves. The waves each have a specific height and distance between them, which are shorter than that of radio waves yet longer than that of microwaves, providing a unique transmission band that can’t be interrupted by other signals. This makes Wi-Fi optimal for the transmission of information.
This next image depicts an ideal transmission of Wi-Fi data over a band that is divided into different sub-channels as shown in red, yellow, green, and blue among other vibrant colors.
Wi-fi waves travel through space and time as rapid, data-encoded pulses. The Wi-Fi pulses are usually spherical, extending about 20-30 meters from standard off-the-shelf router. In these images, Wi-Fi waves are depicted as multicolored spheres radiating out from a central source. If you were to take a freeze-frame of Wi-Fi waves in action, the signals would appear about six inches apart (shown by the lightly colored bands). Wi-Fi routers are generally antennae that send this data over multiple frequencies simultaneously. All the data across these multiple frequencies appear to be swirling around in space, but can be easily translated using a common tag system understood by other wireless devices. Typically Wi-Fi routers can be attached to trees, buildings, and lampposts among other tall structures, and project a signal with a range of 300 ft. or more. These multiple routers then create fields that extend all the way across Washington DC’s National Mall as shown here. The images show how data is instantaneously transmitted over different frequencies from a Wi-Fi antenna as all sorts of blue, indigo and yellow fields!