Water-based Internet!

Dig it: new-media artist Jonah Brucker-Cohen has developed a form of Internet Protocol that uses water — instead of electricity — to transmit digital images:

1. The set-up at the top of the stairwell consists of a computer with a flat panel LCD screen and a USB video camera. When someone walks up to the screen they see live video of themselves. There is a button in front of the screen that when pressed takes a picture of the person. The picture is then translated into a 16 x 16 pixel grayscale image (desktop icon size) and displayed on the LCD.

Also upstairs is a water valve attached to a fixed jug of water or connection to a water source/main. When the grayscale image is created, the computer then analyzes the color of each pixel and ‘prints’ out pulses to the electronically controlled water valve - a different pulse pattern depending on the color of the pixel on screen. The water then falls to the first floor.

2. The set-up on the first floor consists of a plexi-glass tray that awaits the falling water drops. The tray will sit on top of a custom built wooden box with a video projector inside. A funnel situated above an infrared switch watches for falling drops and through a microcontroller, feeds information to the computer at the bottom to decode which color pixel has been printed.

(Got this item from the fine folks at Boing Boing.)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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