Designers Francesco Tacchini, a Royal College of Art grad student, and Julinka Ebhardt and Will Yates-Johnson of Design Products, built the orb using a latex balloon filled with enough helium to be able to lift a battery-powered Arduino (a type of single-board microcontroller); an Adafruit Wave Shield, which was hacked to record audio and play it back on the fly; and a small speaker. These electronic contents were packed into a plastic cone to help project the sound and protect the balloon from being popped by wires. The designers then unleashed this hovering black ball in public spaces: they filmed it lurking in elevators and awkwardly freaking out passengers, floating down the stairs like a terrible omen, replaying people’s conversations, and making industrial clanking noises like the soundtrack to one of David Lynch’s student films.
Some New Age believers in the paranormal claim to often see variously colored orbs of light floating around—supposedly, they’re ghosts and spirits. They say black orbs signify demonic energy and should be approached with caution. While we don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, this weird black ball does look pretty intent on hexing people.