Is this art or a real kit?
Both, kind of. Backslash is an art/design project to promote need for debate surrounding the role of technology in protests. But all the devices are real and fully functional. We use current existing technology and modified them for a specific need.
Do these devices really work?
Yes! We have spent tons of time developing and testing the hardware and software to make sure they are fully functional.
Are smartphones needed to use the devices?
We have designed the devices for different environments and needs. Some of them, like the Bandana and Tags require a smartphone app to read the messages. Others like the Router and Wearable work independently.
Why is this different or better than FireChat?
FireChat is a great tool for mesh network communication, the umbrella movement may have been different with out it. However it works best in densely populated areas where most people owns a smartphone. In many parts of the world, smartphone ownership is still very low. We want to diversify our design methodology to encompass different scenarios world wide.
I want one. Where can I buy one? Will this project be on Kickstarter?
We do not have plans to sell the kit or kickstart this project. Although they are functional devices, we made the kit as a case study to spark debate about the subject. We hope that none of these ever need to be used… Instead we want to help encourage local communities to join the conversation and engineer solutions as needed.
I would like to be a part of this conversation, how do I join?
Thank you for your interest! We are in the middle of setting up a permanent platform for carrying on the conversation. In the mean time, please join us on twitter! #backslash