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A Swiss designer built a machine that sends messages by balloon


The practice of sending messages in bottles (or other floating vessels) has been used to determine the flow of oceans and relay military information. Of course, folks also use the method to serendipitously send correspondence to whoever should stumble upon it. The same principle applied to a contest that designer David Colombini entered as a young lad. With the goal of seeing whose balloon would travel farthest, he and other children released them, and Colombini's made it from Switzerland to Austria. Now, he's made Attachment: a student project that accepts messages from a website, attaches them to biodegradable balloons and floats them off "haphazardly to a potential recipient."

Messages can take the form of text, images or videos (via links, we'd surmise) that the setup prints, stuffs into a biopolymer tube and tethers to the inflated object before taking flight. A crowdfunding campaign helped Colombini finance the construction of the machine that's capable of sorting the entire process, except for rolling the paper and tying off the balloon. "The basic idea was to take a stand against the current use of smart technologies by creating a poetic concept, using current technology that allows us to communicate differently and rediscover expectation, the random, and the unexpected," the project page explains. Unfortunately, you can't send messages at the moment as the project is ongoing, but the goal is to make the rig fully automatic for use at museums, galleries or festivals in the future.

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