We were inspired by the theme of Hacking the Planet and we considered how we could hack the natural forces of the Earth to create an experience for everyone involved. Our goal is to merge social media and data tracking by launching a wandering weather balloon into the atmosphere and allowing followers to interact with it in meaningful ways as it drifts along. Carried by the Earth's wind currents, there is an element of unpredictability that creates an interest for following the balloon's progress.

How it works

Using a 5-ft diameter weather balloon and a simple android-capable smartphone, we are able to capture pictures from the phone's camera, all while interacting with our Social Media Server. The Server, receiving regular updates from the balloon, acts as a mediator between the drifting balloon and the social media it is connected to. So far, it is capable of tweeting a picture along with its location and, at weekly intervals, it sends a newsletter update to its subscribers with pictures and a drawn path on a map of its total travel.

What's next for Amelia Earbot

Given the adaptable nature of a smartphone, this project has the opportunity to grow its connected APIs and apps. Features such as weather, disaster alerting, mass notification and further GPS sophistication allows the project to become a scalable project to suit the needs of whoever using it. The Amelia Earbot has great potential in assisting in humanitarian causes, such as surveying disaster-stricken areas, reaching isolated locations and serving as a communication hub for other environmental data-gathering applications.

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