Transparency Grenade blows WiFi privacy out of water

Created in January, 2012, by Julian Oliver for the Studio Weise7 exhibition at Labor 8, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, the Transparency Grenade represents a more physical approach to fostering the process of corporate and government transparency than the slow, tedious process of policy reform.

Equipped with a tiny computer, microphone and powerful wireless antenna, the Transparency Grenade captures network traffic and audio at the site and securely and anonymously streams it to a dedicated server where it is mined for information. Email fragments, HTML pages, images and voice extracted from this data are then presented on an online, public map, shown at the location of the detonation.

Whether trusted employee, civil servant or concerned citizen, greater openness was never so close at hand..

The components include a ‘Gumstix’ ARM Cortex-A8 computer with expansion board, Arduino Nano (for SPI display control), LED Bargraph (for wireless signal level, controlled by GPIO pin outs from Overo COM), powerful 802.11 board antenna, 3.7v battery, 64×32 pixel LCD RGB display (harvested from NKK ‘SmartSwitch), 5mm cardioid microphone and an 8Gb MicroSD card. The computer runs a modified Angstrom OS, a GNU/Linux embedded operating system popular on ARM devices.

The device appears to intercept unsecured WiFi communications. Development of an Android application is underway, for rooted Android devices. It will replicate some of the functionality of the Grenade while running invisibly on the users phone.

For project details and more illustrations, go to TransparencyGrenade.

This looks like a truly amazing project. From the information released so far, it shows attention to detail in concept, design and execution. We are looking forward to hearing more from Julian regarding the availability of the source code and schematic and will update accordingly.

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s a nice concept and thought, but any IT department worth its salt will have only secured WiFi for their company data, especially with the popularity of WiFi growing by leaps and bounds. Even if a trusted employee could get the grenade on the secured network (A future feature I’m guessing) a decent IPS will knock it out.

    In reality, if you get this on a insecure company network, it is probably a guest network, in which case you will be capturing personal data more than corporate data, and that doesn’t sound like the aim of the device.

  2. u be surprised how often IT admins DONT do thier job. I bet it costs a bit less too.. A REAL GRENADE wood be more effective.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.