SignalObscura: The Faraday-Inspired Cell-Signal-Blocking Scarf


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:

  • Signal Obscura is meant to be simple. Putting your phone in a pocket is a normal occurrence that requires zero extra steps in your life.
  • Also, this.


Signal Obscura was designed as a part of the 48-hour Extreme Wearables Designathon at the Art Center College of Design. Involved in the project were Michelle Leonhart, Barb Noren, Qiyan “Oscar” Li, Ekin Zileli, and Dave Hansungkim.