Poetic Router – A tribute to the age of network awareness


Created by Saurabh Datta (automato), Poetic Router is a project that investigates the potential of the everyday manufactured IoT platforms beyond what is commonly discussed. Whereas most concerns of IoT are focused on security since every “Chip-‘ed” device is hackable and can be jacked and modded remotely. Poetic Router explores network transmission as a way to generate poetry by scraping the data found on the server links.

In a house, a router is potentially a small micro-computer – compiled with a, sometimes closed, set of firmware in an operating system. At both hardware and software level it is optimised to do specific tasks of networking and routing internet traffic and thus at a decision level of design, it was optimised for just those tasks. But given an access and procedural set, it is capable of doing similar tasks as a single chip computer. From one perspective these attributes can be and recent history forsakes, has been compromised. In certain cases the vulnerabilities has been used to loop back some information from and to the users. These all has been done through closed firmware applications on existing manufactured pieces of software and hardware packages.

The device is designed as a “middleman router” on a Arduino Yun (readily available as one of the favourite IoT module running openWRT). It connects to your home router and then creates an Access point for other devices to connect to it directly. Once connected, it now knows the IP address of the machines (computer) and can monitor the traffic going to them from servers. Then it scrapes the data for finding the server links. Once it lists down the links , then with the help of a terminal based browser it pings each one of them and downloads the text on their html page. From the created corpus it generates the poem and runs it through a speech engine which then is passed through an USB audio channel to a FM transmitter. That’s when you hear the poet recite.

Components include Arduino Yun, fm transmitter, external usb wifi antenna, wrtNode, LEDs, Buttons, USB to Audio decoder. The shell is made using 3D printing and laserCutting and software includes Arduino, Python, Shellscripts, openWrt, Espeak terminal voice engine, and terminal text browsers and other linux utilities.

Project Page | Saurabh Datta

See also Newstweek by Julian Oliver