Ambient Weather Beacon

Ambient Weather Beacon

An Arduino-based, ambient weather forecast device.

With the increasing ubiquity of daily data, let’s reduce some of the sensory clutter into meaningful information. Using the principles of ambient display, the Ambient Weather Beacon is a visually unobtrusive, localized weather station displaying tomorrow’s weather forecast.

Weather Beacon Precipitation Animation

For many, the details of tomorrow’s forecast (dew point, wind direction, etc.) are irrelevant. We want to know for example whether it will be warmer tomorrow or if it’s going to rain. We can do this by providing personal context. By comparing what we have experienced today we can make decisions on how to prepare for tomorrow. If today we needed a jacket and we know that tomorrow will be significantly warmer, we’ll leave the jacket at home. If we know that it may rain tomorrow, perhaps we’ll take an umbrella with us before we head out in the morning.

The beacon filters the data and simplifies the forecast:

Blue = significantly colder
Red = significantly warmer
White = same temperature as today
Pulsing (with above color) = precipitation tomorrow

This project is a physical embodiment of the wthr.im weather site and is based on historical weather beacons still found in many cities.

Weather Beacon Interior

Technical
The project is based on the Arduino platform. The Arduino device polls a server which generates a text string (via a PHP page, using data from a JSON source). The text string is then used by the Arduino to turn on a colored LED which corresponds to tomorrow’s weather.

The Arduino sketch and server-side PHP file is available on the Weather Beacon GitHub page.

Ambient Weather Beacon Medium Specifics

Arduino Uno R3 with ethernet shield
Hosted weather servers (wthr.im – PHP, Wunderground – JSON)
Acrylic rod
Lacquered wooden base

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