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Linger – Device to create and broadcast a virtual crowd

Created by Jasper van Loenen, Linger is a small, portable device that allows you to create and blend into a virtual crowd by storing the specific WiFi signals from everyone that comes near you, and rebroadcasting their signals infinitely when they leave, making it seem as if they are still there.

Most mobile devices — such as smartphones — are always searching for wifi networks they have been connected to in the past. Your phone is basically yelling every name of every network it has ever been connected to — at home, at the office or at that hotel with the dodgy connection — to see if it will get a response from the router. These messages contain enough unique information to be used to fingerprint and track individuals, something that is already being done by many different parties, and for various reasons. Shops for instance, use this data to track how many people walk by, how many actually come into the store, and how much time you’ve spent in the candy aisle before making your choice.

As you pass people in the street and their signals are stored in the database of the device, a small display automatically updates to show the number of unique individuals in your group. As Jasper points out – physically they may have left, but their virtual presence will stay with you forever.

The device uses a 7-segment LED display, a Raspberry Pi Zero, two TL-WN722N Wifi dongles and a powered USB hub which are placed inside a laser-cut enclosure. The software is written in Python, using the the Scapy module to work with the required wifi packets.

Project Page | Jasper van Loenen | GitHub