Crashspace at the Extreme Wearables Designathon

Last weekend, several Crashers headed over to Art Center College of Design to take part in the Extreme Wearables 48-hour Designathon, organized by Syuzi Pakchyan.

One of the goals of the event was to introduce hackers, coders, designers, and artists to one another, to enable interdisciplinary collaboration on a prototype. The event’s theme, much like it’s name, was EXTREME. Extreme conditions (be they natural, political, etc.), extreme attempts at unplugging from “the grid”, or extreme efforts to support safety and security.

4 of the 6 teams at the event had at least one Crashspace member, and we also had our co-founder, Carlyn Maw, involved as an expert on hand for the teams to consult with on their ideas. In the end, Crashspace teams took home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place from the competition! [Edit: and we were mentioned in Hackaday!] Here’s a little bit about our projects:

2014-06-29 16.10.30

Emoti (1st place winner!)

(Details coming soon!)

Alia: sharing accountability and bringing back human connection (2nd place winner!)

Matt PinnerElla Jeong | M Asynaps | Jon Hsiung | Mary Kim | Divya Gaitnode

Alia adds an intimate human connection to help people improve accountability and improve their behavior. Specifically we decided to discuss this within a world of digital dependency. We aim to help people unplug from their devices by keeping them subtle connected to their most trusted friend via touch.

We built two working prototypes that allows you to monitor your partners progress based on their sensors and settings. Then whenever you with to nudge them, merely tap the device.

You too can make a set with these parts. The source code and designs are available on github. The documentation is here in the header :

alia: logoAlis: connecting peopleAlia: connectedAlia: works alikeAlia: progress

Alia: mary assembling03-20-20140629_10221102-09-20140628_183145

Compass H2O (Third Place Winner!)

(Details coming soon!)


Michelle Leonhart | Barb Noren | Ekin Zileli | Qiyuan “Oscar” Li | Dave Hansungkim

The goal of Signal Obscura is a functional concept piece intended to help everyday people retain control over their data and traceability, in response to the seemingly limitless reach of our current surveillance state.

Two Models of Signal Obscura

Signal Obscura is, in short, is a flexible, wearable Faraday cage. It functions by blocking the signal between cell towers and your cell phone. Building one of your own is very simple. (Instructions coming soon.) The model below also features blue LEDs which glow in response to the strength of nearby cell towers, bringing awareness to how exposed the wearer would be to having their data collected, were they not wearing the scarf.

The LED-enhanced model

To activate Signal Obscura, you simply place your cellphone within a special pocket. While it is inside, you are “off the grid”. To deactivate, all you have to do is remove your phone from the pocket, and it goes instantly back to normal function.

Signal Obscura is not a replacement for other security measures (end-to-end encryption, Tor, etc.) but simply adds another layer of control to the user over the times and places when others may have access to their data.

And if you’re wondering to yourself “Why not just shut down the phone when it’s not in use?” Well, two things:

LED Matrix Backpack: Version 2.0

x-posted from

Back in January, I put together an LED matrix and slapped it on my backpack to test how it would work as a safety light for cycling in the streets of Los Angeles at night. For a functional prototype, it actually looked pretty cool, and fetched me a ton of compliments from passers by.

So I decided to make a bigger version with a bit more polish. (You can learn how to make your own here!)

so shiny

Like the prototype, this version uses an Arduino Pro Mini and the Adafruit NeoMatrix library. But on this one, the RGB LEDs are separated and soldered together with 1.5″ pieces of SparkFun’s 3-Conductor Conductive Ribbon.

click thumbnails to embiggen photos

The random sparkle pattern is obtained by intentionally screwing up the NeoMatrix configuration, eg. setting the Arudino position as “BOTTOM-RIGHT” when it’s actually in the top-left, and setting the arrangement to PROGRESSIVE even though it’s soldered as zig-zag. (If that last bit sounds like jibberish to you, check out my tutorial here on Instructables on how to configure your LEDs for the NeoMatrix library.) Oh, and I sewed some orange cloth over the whole thing to make it look pretty. (With a little hole at the top, for easy access to the Arduino, and to allow for minor repairs.)

Here’s what it looks like under the covers:

click thumbnails to embiggen photos

Since I built this at Crashspace, Matt Pinner saw my project in-progress, and was inspired to make his own LED Matrix Bag. More for fashion and fun than safety, Matt’s bag is hand-crafted from leather and sparkle fabric. Hopefully he’ll do a whole post on it, because it looks awesome and is super professionally made. His LEDs are configured very similarly to mine, but with the added feature of being motion-reactive, so the circuit sleeps and saves power when not in use.


[EDIT]: This project was featured on the front page of Instructables, and in the Technology section! :D


Creative Commons License
Wearable LED Matrix by Michelle Leonhart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

WOW! FRIDAY Network Club was RAD!

Minds blow by Friday Network Club. we’re learning all about some sweet networking tools and tricks. Thanks Samy!

“so many insecurities. and, so many people haven’t thought of. you should think about this.” –Samy

next time:
transparent mitm

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Network/Mobile Sniffing, Protocol Deobfuscation, Reverse Engineering

BE THERE FRIDAY, June 20th at 8p for what will prove to be a very informative class with Samy Kamkar

FREE and open to the public!

Network/Mobile Sniffing, Protocol Deobfuscation, Reverse Engineering

To go over some of the cross-over, I think what we’ll do for this class is go through a real-world and step-by-step walk-through of an encrypted, obfuscated, undocumented protocol on the Android or iOS stack which was NOT open source (source was NOT in Android), yet binaries included in all Android installations (and similarly iOS). From reasons to investigate these funny packets and how I ultimately found Android (and iPhone, and Windows 8 mobile) were sending massive amounts of encrypted, obfuscated GPS/geolocation data and MAC addresses of all networks around you (correlated to GPS) and storing it all, from every single smartphone.

Even when you turned GPS off.

So we’ll go over:

top-down approach of trying to examine something undocumented
wireless/network sniffing
mobile sniffing
packet injection
man in the middle attacks (SSL and non-SSL)/decrypting SSL connections
unknown protocol investigation

By the end of the class, not only do I hope you will be able to do this process or use any of these methods yourself in other areas, but you will be able to manipulate Google/Apple Maps’ Traffic, meaning you can make Venice Blvd look green for fast or red for slow (for anyone using Google/Apple Maps) to reroute them, and you will be able to find the physical address of anyone by obtaining their router’s MAC address (which you can often get by having them visit a page without authorization — more will be discussed in the class). That wasn’t my intention, but a side effect of learning about one thing opens up some pretty crazy, unexpected possibilities.

By the end you should have a basic understanding of doing this process yourself, have a pretty good toolchain for this type of research, and also be able to use any of these a la carte for useful reasons in the future.

Pure Data Patching Circle This Sunday June 22nd

We will be having a patching circle on Sunday 6/22 from noon to 4 pm at CRASH Space.

What is Pure Data (Pd)? Pd is an open source visual programming language used by artists and musicians all around the world. It’s creator, Miller Puckette, teaches computer music at UCSD, and was the creator of the original version of Max/MSP.

A patching circle is an informal gathering of anyone who is interested in patching languages (Pure Data, Max/MSP/Jitter, etc.).  Beginners and experienced patchers are welcome.  Open to everyone – work on personal or professional projects, school work, or just patch quietly to yourself, in a room full of other people patching patches and helping other people patch.

Free and open to the public (donations to CRASH Space are welcome, of course).