Data Vaporizer | Wearable ecologies

Data Vaporizer imagines how people and their technologies might react to a future world where data sharing is pervasive, constant, and perhaps out of control because of wearables. The Data Vaporizer protects its owner by visibly vaporizing anyone else’s data before they can get to the owner’s data. In this way, it creates a protective space where data thieves would be afraid to steal data for fear their own data would be destroyed.


+ The project summary


If wearable devices and sensors continue to grow in popularity, our private data would be transmitted through such devices all the time. In that case, there is a possibility that physical contact between people would be used as a way of stealing data. Also, a risk of real-time surveillance would be more increased, and someone whom we don't know can monitor our information and behaviors by access to the data transmitted from wearables.

Data Vaporizer is based on the idea of creating a wearable device to protect oneself from those risks. It is composed of the sensor named Data Inhaler and a wearable smoke machine, and allows users to intercept data which is supposed to go to receiver from devices and vaporize it. Vaporized data is then deleted from the device, and emitted in the form of smoke into the air, processed by the wearable smoke machine.

Data Vaporizer is for users who want to protect their personal information in a public space, and can be either used in a defensive or aggressive way, depending on the situation. Since Data Inhaler sucks in data from any device existing within a range, users can vaporize their own data from devices and other’s data from their devices as well. In an aggressive way, emitting smoke as a strong-willed form of expression to save individual privacy, makes a visual statement to the public that the users can destroy other’s data by vaporizing it when others approach within a certain distance.


+ Reference Technology
Technologically, Data Vaporizer is inspired by the art of hacking.
(1) Man-in-the-middle attack: A hacking method in a form of eavesdropping. By intercepting all messages going between a sender and a receiver, and making them believe that they are talking directly to each other over a private connection.

(2) TV-B-Gone: An universal remote control to turn off a large majority of the current available brands of televisions sets. In public space, people can turn off nearby television sets by using this device because it can emit pulses for Power to every manufacturer of televisions.


+ Sketches

Initial design concept of Data Vaporizer was more like a steam-punk style haute couture dress, and a number of pipes and hoses were used to make a dramatic appearance. At that time, I was focused on poetic aspect of smoke and how to make smoke wearable. In these sketches, people using Data Vaporizer are described like wearing a cloud.


As I started making a prototype, design concept changed and became a back pack style. In order to make a portable smoke machine, I decided to use dry ice and hot water, and the back pack form was chosen for users to carry it safely.


+ Photo



+ Prototype: Data Inhaler

Data Inhaler is a sensor to intercept data that is supposed to go to receiver or cloud from wearable device. The inhaled data is sent to the smoke machine, and smoke machine will vaporize it.

Data Inhaler's inhaling range is defined based on Proxemics which is a study about physical space between individuals. According to it, there are four types of spaces between people, such as intimate, personal, social and public space. People feel uncomfortable when strangers enter their intimate space because physical contact can happen in this zone. Data Inhaler sucks in data within the intimate space to avoid of doubtful physical contact from data thieves.


*Diagram of Edward T. Hall's personal reaction bubbles, showing radius in meter.


+ Prototype: Smoke machine


Smoke machine is connected to Data inhaler. It vaporizes the intercepted data and emits smoke after deleting it. Smoke released from three holes will make a fluid space around user. Emitting smoke, as a form of expression of a strong will to save individual’s privacy, makes a visual statement to the public that the user can destroy others’ data by vaporizing it when other person reaches within a certain distance.


+ Prototype: Smoke machine - mechanical structure


After smoke testing with e-cigarette's atomizer, humidifier and dry ice, I chose to use dry ice and hot water to make a smoke effect because dry ice is fit to make a thick smoke in a very short time.



Arduino, servo motor, fan, proximity sensor, metal water valves, acrylic, form cords, moldable plastic and pipes were used to make a prototype. Frame of the prototype was built with acrylic using laser cutting machine, and moldable plastic was used to connect servo motor to water valve.


+ Prototype: Smoke machine - principle of operation

Proximity sensor used for data inhaler works as a switch, so when an object is detected by proximity sensor at a close distance, servo connected with arduino opens the metal water valve to supply water to dry ice. And then, fan starts performing to emit smoke upwards from the dry ice basket.


+ Interactions
Data Vaporizer can make two different types of interactions based on situations.


(1) Be on the defensive: this is for users who want to protect their privacy and make a personal space by sacrificing their own data. For example, when users are in a closed space with a lot of people, such as a crowded elevator, they can vaporize their own data and express their insecure feeling to others by emitting smoke through Data Vaporizer. In this case, since user can't get out of the space and avoid of physical contact deleting and vaporizing their own data can be one way to protect their privacy.


(2) Be on the aggressive: this is for users who want to block potential data thieves approach in more open space. By using Data Vaporizer as a warning system, users can scare strangers that if they enter users' intimate zone without permission users can destroy their data by vaporizing it. In this situation, emitted smoke will temporarily make a visible space around users and it will help them to have a distance with strangers.


+ Video for interaction demos



+ Presentation 01: Final Crit
For performance, intimate distance (1.5ft) and personal distance (4ft) around user are marked on the ground according to proxemics.




+ Presentation 02: Intel Press Event
On May 13, five wearable projects in the class were selected to present its concept and run demo to one hundreds international journalists who were invited by Intel at south campus, Art Center College of Design.


- Installation set up for demo


- Presentation


- Interview


+ Publications: Online Feature
5 cool 'wearable' prototypes that might be the next Google Glass | KPCC - Southern California Public Radio
The future of wearables: nail art, expressive hats and a smoke machine | memburn
This Backpack Vaporizes Your Data And Puts You Behind A Smokescreen | Fast Co Design
Data Vaporizer smoke machine makes the invisible visible | PSFK
Information - protecting Backpacks | Trend Hunter
Red os fra wearable-teknologien | TECH | Danish
Dispositivos vestibles serán más eficientes | Excelsior | Spanish
Morning Russia | 1:30 - 2:02 | National Internet Channel | Russian
[21세기형 교육 현장을 가다] 기존 학습법 파괴…'혁신 학교' 잘 나간다 | Korea Daily Los Angeles | Korean

Class: Wearable Ecologies, Lab Project, SP14
Instructors: Ben Hooker, Phillip van Allen
Sponsored by Intel
Presentation photos by Sangli Li, Jenny Rodenhouse and Jay Hong