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Sensible Data – A machine that playfully interprets and leaks your personal data

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Created by Martin Hertig at ECAL (Bachelor Media & Interaction Design), Sensible Data is a playful installation consisting of three machines that collect user’s personal data, evaluates mood, age, gender and beauty, to create a ‘passport’ that user can take away but which also randomly sent (without user’s knowledge) to another participant.

In this project Martin explores the issues of ‘confidence’ surrounding data collection systems. As our personal data is collected, it’s validity, interpretation and accuracy are thrown into question. While the installation is designed to be playful (intentionally), the user is also sent data of the previous user, including fingerprint, photo and email that match absurd criteria derived from the amount of lines in the portrait.

The three machines are modified versions of Piccolo CNC, an open-source drawing machine based on Arduino. A Raspberry Pi serves as the brain of the installation, running a python script for each step of the process. Each script listens to the desired input and sends the plotting commands to the needed machine. The photo taken with the iPad is automatically synchronized to the Pi using Dropbox. A python script transforms the photo to a line drawing using openCV and send the lines to the drawing machine. The machine then analyses the face: when receiving an email, the Pi sends the previously taken image to an online service called Rekognition. Their machine learning algorithm detects the beauty in percent, mood, age and gender of a person. This information is then stored in a database and stamped on the passport letter by letter by the laser-cut stamp-wheel. Finally, the validation stamp: The dubious button is actually a fingerprint scanner which acts as a validation stamp of the identity. After some seconds, an email with all the data of a matching person is sent to the user.

Project Page | Martin Hertig

Tutors: Alain Bellet, Cyril Diagne, Gael Hugo, Christophe Guignard, Vincent Jacquier
Assistants : Matthieu Minguet, Laura Perrenoud, Tibor Udvari
ECAL / University of Art and Design, Lausanne Switzerland

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