MTM hardware development

One of the benefits of a physical narrative is its ability to allow the visitor freedom to dive into details by choosing which parts of the narrative they want to look at. For you it is the ballerina’s diary, for me his girlfriend’s collection of Asian daggers. Each part adds to the story, but allows an independent way to get behind the facade. Maybe when we chat we will realise that the reference to Kris is not a person, but to the stolen dagger that forms the crux of the narrative.

One of the objects for Mind the Map is a fictionalised border guard security and identification device. The device would be used to check the ID and background of a given internee, their story, their arrest, their “evaluation” and all sorts of other details. We want to use this device to let these stories be accessed, through an intuitive card slot and touchscreen interface. Taking advantage of the way that small tablets have become ubiquitous, cheap and powerful, we decided to work on this basis. Mara Dionisio from M-ITI, in her residency period, cracked the basic problem of getting an RFID tag reader to talk to the tablet. We have reassembled her code and carried on. Just because it worked once, does not mean that it can be used again!

The system we have prototyped is a simple java enabled HTML5 system of linked pages with an external control by the presence of an ID Card. The system defaults to a suitably ugly splash screen when it is uncarded. When a card is introduced, the system links to the basis information for the “detainee” and allows the visitor to use the device to explore their story.



The card is fed over the RFID tag reader to open the page. From then on, interaction is by touchscreen, as long as the card is present.

DSC01404 The card is fed over the RFID tag reader to open the page. From then on, interaction is by touchscreen, as long as the card is present.


While not particularly complex, the structure is simple enough to allow an intuitive investigation of the stories. With a minimum of technological hoo-hah, we can now concentrate upon the CSS and HTML construction for the stories we wish to tell. Parallel to this we embed the tablet and control electronics into a suitably pseudo-military metal enclosure, to get that authentic Frontex feel. Whatever that means.

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