If an opaque regime retains rule by restraining knowledge, then the truth's an explosive risk: so there's no better place to welcome a wiretap than in the translucent form of a Soviet F1 hand grenade. Artist Julian Oliver's "Transparency Grenade" is a device that uses a small computer, microphone, and wireless antenna to lift nearby network traffic and audio and stream it to the outside world. The device is designed to dig for e-mail excerpts, websites, images, and nearby voices, and then dispense that data with a location to a public website. The creators say that it's an "iconic cure" for a "lack of corporate and governmental transparency."
The grenade is made of a translucent resin, contains hand-crafted sterling silver parts, and has a functioning trigger mechanism. It runs a modified Angstrom (Linux-based) OS atop an ARM Cortex A8 chip, an Arduino Nano, an LED bargraph, an 802.11 antenna, a 3.7-volt battery, 64 x 32 RGB display, a 5mm cardioid microphone, and an 8GB MicroSD card. For those who don't have the materials or know-how to put that together, the creators say that an Android app that mimics some of the grenade's functionality is forthcoming for rooted phones.
If you're in Berlin through February 20th, you can check out the Transparency Grenade in the Weise7 Studio exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt — just don't plan for a private parley in its presence.