Proposal for Singapore maker faire – the “Neobombe”

So some of my friends and I (our group has a name – “Art Makes Us“) decided to take part in the Maker Faire in Singapore this year. It will be held a primary school in Tampines sometime early July.

Here is our project description:

“Neobombe” is a scientific artwork based on the Turing machine featured in the movie “The Imitation Game”. “Neobombe” is a combination of two words, “neo” and “bombe”. The “bombe” is an electromechanical device used by British cryptologists to help decipher German Enigma-machine-encrypted secret messages during World War II. “Neo” means “new”, because our version of the bombe takes on an art perspective. The “Neobombe” replays the World War II scenario of decrypting Enigma encoded messages in the form of Twitter feeds. Users interact with the artwork by tweeting using a specific hashtag and then see how the bombe interprets those messages.

Here’s an image of Turing’s decryption machine from the movie ‘The Imitation Game’:-


And here are some concept images of our proposed installation:




We are using 36 stepper motors to create the rotating gear effect. The motors themselves will set us back by at least S$1,000. Good thing all of us are working and no longer poor students so we can combine our resources to make this. There will be some kind of colour led light on each motor to highlight its mechanical movement and to make it look, well, a little more interesting to see. There will also be sounds created in software by our sound designer in the team. The software is already up and running thanks to our programmer. How it works is that you send a live tweet on Twitter with a hashtag, say, “neobombe” (I checked. This hashtag is unique), and then the program will scan the feed and do a simulated encryption and decryption. Which is invisible except that the motors will spin when the decryption is happening, accompanied by sound effects. Once the message is successfully “decrypted”, the motors will stop spinning, and the actual message will appear in its plain text form on the table from a small projector. When it is decrypting, you will see a jumble of nonsense text on the table instead. By the way, the software actually follows the exact mathematical procedure used in WWII but you can’t see this unfortunately. Well, not literally. But you get the idea. Or at least we hope.


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  1. Pingback: The making of the “Neobombe” prototype | lohjianhui

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