Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Find: Good Weather App: Kickstart a More Useful Forecast with "Dark Sky"

Good idea. Want some.

Good Weather App: Kickstart a More Useful Forecast with "Dark Sky"

Adam Grossman and Jack Turner are a couple of "mild-mannered web / mobile developers" based in Troy, New York, who collaborate as Jackadam. If their Kickstarter pitch is any indication, their choice of adjectives is appropriate:




Their Kickstarter project, "Dark Sky," is a new kind of weather app that promises military-grade accuracy in mobile meteorology:
Using your precise location, it tells you when it will precipitate and for how long. For example: It might tell you that it will start raining in 8 minutes, with the rain lasting for 15 minutes followed by a 25 minute break.
How is it possible predict the weather down to the minute? What's the catch?
Well, the catch is that it only works over a short period of time: a half hour to an hour in the future. But, as it turns out, this timespan is crucially important. Our lives are filled with short-term outdoor activities: Traveling to and from work, walking the dog, lunch with friends, outdoor sports, etc.
DarkSkyGraphs.jpg
It's a great example of identifying a neglected space for innovation and then, well, innovating. Given that the weather has some kind of bearing on nearly every decision that one makes—at least to the extent that one must leave his or her home—I think that the limited timeframe makes perfect sense. It's obviously nice to know what the weather will be like over the weekend—sunny with highs in the 50s, for those of you in New York—it seems far more practical to know what it's like (at risk of snide suggestions to look out the window) right now. It's like the Twitter of weather forecasts.
DarkSkyRadar.jpg
They've also devoted a bit of energy to improving Doppler radar animations in the interest of a more intuitive data visualization for storm systems.
Doppler radar stations only take new images every five to ten minutes, so instead of a smooth animation you're presented with a slideshow of a handful of still images. This makes it hard to get a sense of where the storms are coming from and where they're headed.
Using the same techniques we've developed for predicting rain, we can show you what the storm looks like in between the indi...

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