(with, interactive RFID installation querying Google about person information and visualizing it through a projection on a table surface, Picnic07, Amsterdam, September 2007.

On September 25th – 29th, the cross media week picnic07 took place in Amsterdam. I was invited by Mediamatic to participate in a RFID hacking workshop. The goal was clear: put a bunch of hackers, t(h)inkerers and interaction designers together; let them play with rfid chips and readers and make an installation for the picnic event.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. Together with David Kousemaker (, Don Blaauw, Dirk Oosterbosch, Vlad Trifa, and Esther Weltevrede we tought up and made iTea. iTea is an interactive installation in the form of a coffee table.

In the coffee cup on top of the table, you can place your rfid tag – which is given to you at the entrance of the conference and linked to a social network – and the table will start to display information about you. At first it gets your name, description and keywords from the picnic network. Then it will start to Google your firstname and lastname. Then it just googles your first name but substitutes it by your full name. The result is visualized by a projection from within the table to the surface of the table, in the form of drops of information.

The idea was to make people aware of data mining, profiling and rfid chips. This turned out to be exactly what happened. People would drop in there rfid tag and started reading. At the beginning the information was correct.

Some people would already be amazed (“How on earth can this table know who I am by placing a little key chain in this cup?”). After that the table started gossiping because of the substitution of the first name by the full name. Most of the time the table was surrounded by a lot of people and the person who put in it’s rfid tag would now say “this is not true”. However, people around the table reacted “yeah, that’s what they all say”. Mission accomplished.

The algorithm which gets data from Google has been written by me previously for and has also been used for the Oracle Machine.


More information about iTea can be found on our project page.


More pictures:

Our Team:

Marco de boer

Cup on the table

The whole story of the hackers camp, written by Esther (the first is very long, then it gets shorter and shorter:

All photos on this page are by Anne Helmond.

iTea has been exhibited at the following places

  • exhibition accompanying Noorderslag, Groningen, 12 -15 January 2011.
  • Mediamatic exhibition space, Amsterdam, 2010 – 2013.
  • Picnic07, Amsterdam, September 2007.