May 25, 2017 | By Tess

These days, online privacy is a significant and controversial issue that affects practically every single person who uses the internet. That is, whether you are concerned about it or not, corporations and organizations have the means to track much of your online activity: what you search for, where you are, who you’re in contact with, etc.

Fortunately, some innovators out there are standing up for online privacy and are developing tools that make it easier for non-tech-savvy people to protect their online information. One such product is Thero, a 3D printed device that lets users switch to encrypted communication methods with the turn of a dial.

Thero, which was created by Spanish designer Román Torre and Ángeles Angulo, is still in its prototyping stages, though the compact device has certainly gained a lot of attention. Featured on Creative Applications and Co.Design, the 3D printed device transforms an intangible thing like encryption into a physical object, making it easier to see whether you are susceptible to online tracking or are protected.

The 3D printed geometric prototype currently has four privacy settings: mostly open internet access; total traffic encryption using the Tor network; encrypted websites with a block on social media websites; and “total blackout,” where users can only navigate through an internal web server. By simply twisting Thero’s dial, users can change between these four levels of encryption with ease.

How does the device actually work? Well, somewhat fittingly, the maker hasn’t divulged much about the process. “The way of using this device is a little bit mysterious, but it’s easy because you don’t need to know complicated hacks to use to preserve your privacy—no apps, no browser plugins, etc.,” Torre explained. “You only need to move the interface to interact with this device.”

What we do know is that Thero is equipped with a Raspberry Pi 3 and is programmed using Python. According to Torres and Angulo, they plan to commercialize Thero and, in the spirit of transparency, will keep the project open source (with an OpenWRT version to be released soon).

Designed with both functionality and aesthetics in mind, the 3D printed tool bears a stylish geometric structure which would visually fit on most desktops. So far, two prototypes have been unveiled: one made of both concrete and 3D printed parts, the other entirely 3D printed.

The internet privacy advocates have been working on Thero for the past year and have been supported through a grant from Next Things 2016. Ultimately, they hope their 3D printed desktop accessory will enable and encourage people to keep track of their internet privacy status.

"We believe that the presence of an object can give corporality something so abstract like the digital world, configurations, and the consequences of its use," reads the Thero website.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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