Apps like Google Maps are heavily relied upon by millions of people across the globe on a daily basis. But what happens when a tool that is of constant use by so many individuals no longer functions as it was intended? That's the premise of Berlin-based artist Simon Weckert's latest project.
For his piece, Weckert tricked the Google Maps app by pulling 99 smartphones down pedestrian streets in a little red trolley, which, in turn, caused Google Maps to assume the streets were filled with automobile traffic. As a result, anyone attempting to utilize the roads traveled by Weckert and his smartphone-filled wagon was informed by Google Maps that traffic had halted and were advised to use another route.
“Traffic data in Google Maps is refreshed continuously thanks to information from a variety of sources, including aggregated anonymized data from people who have location services turned on and contributions from the Google Maps community," Google said in a statement. “We appreciate seeing creative uses of Google Maps like this as it helps us make maps work better over time.”
Wired points out that Weckert's Google Maps hack was not intended to be a prank, however.
“What I’m really interested in generally is the connection between technology and society and the impact of technology, how it shapes us,” Weckert said. “I have the feeling right now that technology is not adapting to us, it’s the other way around.”
As shown by the project, traffic jams can be fabricated, not only putting a strain on those attempting to travel a specific route, but also on streets and areas that are less traveled and unaccustomed to higher traffic volume.
You can watch a video highlighting Simon Weckert's Google Maps hack below. Following, head on over to Wired for more on the project.