Data Vaporizer

Project: Art Center College of Design (2014)
Design Execution: Idea, Design, Prototyping, Film Production

Data Vaporizer is a speculative wearable device that intercepts and vaporizes personal data. The project imagines how people and wearable technologies might react to a future world where data sharing is pervasive, constant, and perhaps out of control. Composed of a glove-type sensor and a smoke machine, the Data Vaporizer protects its owner by visibly vaporizing anyone else’s data before they can get to the owner’s data. The vaporized data creates a protective space where data thieves would be afraid to steal data for fear their own data would be destroyed.

The Issue of Data Security
As wearable technology continues to grow in popularity, various types of personal data become collectible by a wearable device. The data created by those devices are private and detailed, it is easy to be a target in hacker attacks. Since wearable sensors and devices are minimally functionalized for its wearability, and they send data to third parties through a wireless connection, the risk of potential data theft is more than a little. Also, researchers from Tel Aviv University found out that it is possible to steal an encryption key of a device only by touching a metal part of it. In this regard, I was interested in that body contact with strangers not only makes people feel unpleased, but also could be considered as an attempt of data theft.

According to Proxemics, the study of the impact of the use of space on interpersonal communication, each individual has a personal reaction bubble. People tend to feel uncomfortable when a stranger is in their personal and intimate spaces because unwanted physical contact could happen within these areas. Based on the relationship between a wearable device, data privacy, and Proxemics, Data Vaporizer explores a self-defensive wearable device to enable a user to protect his/her privacy in terms of both data and space.

Save Personal Space

(1) Be defensive | Loss Cut
When a user is in an enclosed space like an elevator, and it is hard to avoid of physical contact of others, a user can use Data Vaporizer to delete and vaporize the one’s personal data. In this case, a user deletes him/her own data for protecting data privacy.

(2) Be aggressive | Attack Data Theives
In an open area, Data Vaporizer enables a user to attack data thieves’ data and warn other strangers that “if you enter my personal zone without my permission your data will be destroyed.” The smoke of the vaporized data will temporarily make a visible space around the user and it will help to block strangers’ further approach.

Concept sketches

Prototype testing


The project was demonstrated at Intel International Press Fair at Art Center College of Design in 2014.