SkyLift Geolocation Deocy
This is an open source project. If you’d like to order a ready-to-use device with improved functionality, add yourself to my mailing list here. Estimated luanch April 30, 2017.
WiFi Geolocation Decoy
- For the !Mediengruppe Bitnik Assange Room. Made in collaboration with Surya Mattu.
If you’re interested in making your device go here: How to build your own SkyLift device
For information on the exhibition go here: Welcome to Ecuador
If you’re interested in purchasing one of the first commercially available SkyLift geolocation decoy kits, please add yourself to my company’s mailing list at Undisclosed.studio
SkyLift is a geolocation decoy that virtually relocates visitors to Julian Assange’s residence at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The device was made for !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s Assange room (currently at Zoo Galerie) and works by broadcasting WiFi signals that exploit a smartphone’s reliance on using nearby MAC addresses for location services.
SkyLift works without connecting to any WiFi network. The only requirements are that you have WiFi turned on and location services enabled. There is no IP spoofing, no GPS signal spoofing, no VPN, and no 3rd party app involved.
Once inside Bitnik’s Assange room, SkyLift will adjust your smartphone’s location to 3 Hans Crescent Knightsbridge, London SW1X 0LS (The Ecuadorian Embassy in London). There, you can check-in or share photos that will be tagged with the latitude and longitude of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
All services that rely on geolocation, including geofenced apps, will be relocated to the London.
The WiFi data used for SkyLift was collected onsite in London with a WiFi scanning device (Raspberry Pi + WiFi interface). The information displayed on the computer’s screen (above and in gallery) shows each of the unique MAC addresses (BSSIDs) and their associated network name from routers nearby the embassy. This information is rebroadcast inside the exhibition space to emulate over 60 WiFi access points that exist near the real Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
SkyLift launched at the !Mediengruppe Bitnik Welcome to Ecuador show on June 25, 2016 curated by Aude Launay at Zoo Galerie in Nantes, France.
To increase the performance of SkyLift in the Mediengruppe Bitnik Assange room, the entire structure was covered with RF shielding foil. This helps reduce the number of broadcasts seen from neighboring routers which interfere with the confidence score returned from the WiFi geolocation API used by iOS or Android.
Using NetSpot, a WiFi mapping tool, the entire gallery space was mapped to understand where nearby routers were located. The map below shows the signal strengths of routers outside the gallery.
The map shows that, prior to shielding, there are beacons from routers in Nantes visible throughout the gallery space and inside the Assange room.
- Built in collaboration with: Surya Mattu (US) suryamattu.com | Research and development of proof of concept (2014-2016).
- Concept in collaboration with: !Mediengruppe Bitnik
- Technical advisement from: Julian Oliver (DE) julianoliver.com | packetbridge
- Research assistance and Python development contributions by: Leon Eckert (US/DE)