With the vast majority of cell phone users out there owning some type of smartphone, whether dated and well-worn or new and running top-line software, crowdsourced data acquired through apps is something that has drawn increasing attention, not the least of which concerns weather. OpenSignal, a startup that had worked with gathering crowdsourced cell reception data, has launched a new weather crowdsourcing app that looks at smartphone battery temperatures.
The startup was motivated in such realms after discovering that the temperature outdoors in any given location corresponded to the temperature of a cell phone’s battery, something that spurred the publication of a scientific paper on the findings. The battery temperature readings were first used by OpenSignal to help determine correlations between signal strength and battery life.
The app being used to achieve this is OpenSignal’s WeatherSignal app, which is available for download from the Google Play store. As the folks over at MIT Technology Review point out, this is the latest in other efforts that use crowdsourced cell phone data to gather information on weather. One other project is called PressureNET, for example, which collects data on air pressure.
This is achieved using the barometer that is integrated with most smartphones to work alongside the GPS functionality. The powers that be behind the project are actively working to utilize the information gathered in meaningful ways, one of which involves filling the gap in locations where weather stations aren’t available to provide this information.
For now, the biggest issue to OpenSignal and others’ efforts is the number of users who participate in the projects, a user base currently small enough not to have any widespread impact. Still, enacting the system and refining it now could prove invaluable in the future, one that might include a weather data app on nearly every smartphone and a myriad of ways the information is used for the benefit of science.
SOURCE: MIT Technology Review