Like any major festival, SxSW is usually plagued by shitty Wi-Fi and cell service, as the sudden influx of hundreds of thousands of people overload existing networks. New York-based ad agency BBH Labs found a solution to this, turning homeless folks around downtown Austin, Tex. into Wi-Fi hotspots during last week’s Interactive portion of the festival.

Each homeless participant served as a vendor, allowing festivalgoers to purchase access to his or her on-body wireless network.

It’s a pretty ingenious idea, though the idea of turning people into hardware is a bit exploitative. BBH Labs, however, is taking the optimistic view, hoping that the networks could spawn a new line of work for the homeless as content providers spreading local news and knowledge.

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[via The Guardian]