Smartphones are a great way to check in on the latest weather predictions, but new research aims to use the batteries in those same smartphones to predict the weather.
A group of smartphone app developers and weather experts created a way to use the temperature sensors built into smartphone batteries to crowdsource weather information. These tiny thermometers usually prevent smartphones from dangerously overheating, but the researchers discovered the battery temperatures tell a story about the environment around them.
Crowdsourcing hundreds of thousands of smartphone temperature readings from phones running the popular OpenSignal Android app, the team estimated daily average temperatures for eight major cities around the world. After calibration, the team calculated air temperatures within an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of the actual value, which should improve as more users join the system.
While each of the cities already has established weather stations, according to the new method’s creators it could one day make predictions possible at a much finer scale of time and space than is currently feasible. Whereas today, weather reports typically provide one temperature for an entire city and a handful of readings expected throughout a day, the technique could lead to continuously updated weather predictions at a city block resolution.
“The ultimate end is to be able to do things we’ve never been able to do before in meteorology and give those really short-term and localized predictions,” said James Robinson, co-founder of London-based app developer OpenSignal that discovered the method. “In London you can go from bright and sunny to cloudy in just a matter of minutes. We’d hope someone would be able to decide when to leave their office to get the best weather for their lunch break.”
The work was published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Robinson’s OpenSignal app collects information voluntarily sent from users’ phones to build accurate maps of cellphone coverage and Wi-Fi access points. The app boasts about 700,000 active users according to Robinson, about 90 percent of which opt in to providing statistics collected by their phones.
Robinson originally wondered whether smartphones running on newer, 4G networks ran hotter than those running on older networks. When no difference showed up, he looked for other potential uses of the temperature information available on Android-powered devices.
“Just sort of for fun we started looking to see if there was a correlation with anything else,” said Robinson. “We got some London weather data for comparison and found the two sets of temperatures were offset, but they had the same sort of shape.”
While OpenSignal is available to iPhone and iPad users, the temperature readings on those devices are not accessible like on their Android counterparts.
After finding the correlation between smartphone and air temperatures in London, Robinson and his fellow developers assembled temperature data from other major cities where they had a large number of users. Comparing data from Los Angeles, Paris, Mexico City, Moscow, Rome, San Paulo and Buenos Aires, Argentina, they saw the same link between the two sets of temperatures they saw in London.
“It was amazing how easily the correlation sort of popped out,” said Robinson. “We didn’t do any handpicking of data—it sort of just emerged.”
A smartphone’s environment affects its temperature, according to Robinson. On a sweltering day, a cell phone tucked in a pocket will be hotter than the same cell phone on an icy day. Weather experts helped Robinson develop a way to calculate outdoor temperatures from smartphone battery temperatures, the latter of which are typically hotter.
However, other factors unrelated to the outdoor weather can play a role. A phone outdoors running the latest 3-D game could run at 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) while the same phone idling in an air-conditioned building nearby could be only running at 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit).
To avoid fluctuations in temperature unrelated to the real outdoor temperature, Robinson needed large amounts of data. While an individual phone might not provide an accurate representation of the weather, combining the readings from hundreds or thousands of phones together gives a more truthful overall picture. Currently Robinson collects over half a million temperature readings each day from users of his OpenWeather app. He said he plans to make the data freely available to academic researchers.
““There’s the wider promise when logging all this information that there will be something really interesting you can understand,” said Robinson. “The most obvious application is climate and weather tracking.”
The Latest Bing News on:
- Colorado Launches a Traffic App That Makes Google Maps Look Obsoleteon October 14, 2021 at 3:30 pm
There are plenty of navigation apps out there, such as Waze and Google Maps, and they are often incredibly accurate, especially as they use several sources for the data they display to drivers.
- 'If we didn't have that money, she would die': More pay for medical bills by crowdsourcingon October 11, 2021 at 8:55 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — October is breast cancer awareness month, and the disease is a battle no one wants to fight. But when one Arkansan's mother was diagnosed with the illness, another battle ...
- How ash falling from wildfires can help future predictions of extreme fire weather | Scorched Earthon October 10, 2021 at 9:31 am
A new research project will engage the public to upload photos of ash in hopes of learning about the growing extreme wildfire behavior.
- Pasta shortages after dire wheat harvest attributed to climate changeon October 7, 2021 at 8:25 pm
Extreme dry weather has led to severe shortages in durum wheat, causing prices to soar by 90-100 per cent amid worldwide supply problems. Droughts and record temperatures have had devastating effects ...
- Arccos Caddie 2022 Updates: More Data For Your Gameon October 7, 2021 at 6:16 am
We all know weather and altitude affect your golf game, but the new Arccos Caddie updates for 2022 add some hard data to your intuition.
- Competition for artwork that tells Scotland’s climate storyon October 6, 2021 at 3:15 am
Historic Environment Scotland have asked the public to submit artwork and photographs The Visions of Climate Change competition is crowdsourcing images to use in an online exhibition that will ...
- Marketing researchers at UTSA explore design crowdsourcingon October 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm
“Design crowdsourcing brings in novel and fresh solutions to design ... free access to the night sky by using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers ...
- The National Weather Service Began as a Crowdsourcing Experimenton September 28, 2021 at 9:53 am
Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry used an army of volunteers in what would eventually become the nation's weather forecasting operation ...
- Online tools to track your neighborhood's safetyon September 27, 2021 at 4:55 am
Today, neighborhood safety resources leverage publicly available crime data and the power of crowdsourcing ... schools, weather, the neighbors themselves. All of the above will affect ...
- How a public education advocacy group is tracking which Alberta schools have COVID-19 outbreakson September 27, 2021 at 12:20 am
The Alberta government will not release data on how many schools have COVID-19 outbreaks, so a non-profit group called Support Our Students is crowdsourcing its own list. Kim Smith spoke with Wing ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
Predict the weather
- Efforts made to become a more ‘weather ready’ nationon October 15, 2021 at 2:03 am
SHELBY: THE NEW GOAL TO BE A WEATHER READY NATION HAS FIVE OBJECTIVES. ENHANCE IMPACT BASED DECISION SUPPORT SERVICES, IMPROVE WORKFORCE OPPORTUNITIES, DEVELOP A COLLABORATEIV EFFOR There is a new ...
- Irish Weather – Met Eireann predict patches of rain and temps up to 16C with mild and cloudy weekend aheadon October 15, 2021 at 1:35 am
MET EIREANN predict a mix of cloud, mist and patches of rain this Friday as we kick of the weekend. But clearer and brighter spells of sunshine will spread across the northern half of the country ...
- The Weather Bosses Predict a Cool Weekendon October 14, 2021 at 6:13 pm
I’m Sammie Brown, and I’m Angel Espinoza, reporting Siouxland Public Media Weather from the Spalding Park Environmental Sciences Elementary School. Today ...
- Can an insect and a cup of coffee predict the weather?on October 14, 2021 at 9:21 am
It may come across as a very strange question, but is it possible that an insect or a cup of coffee can predict the weather? The insect we’re referring to is the woolly bear caterpillar, and the cup ...
- In Banner Elk, a winning wooly worm makes winter weather predictionson October 14, 2021 at 8:02 am
Since 1978, a festival in North Carolina’s High Country has touted being able to predict the severity of winter weather. And it all comes down to a winning worm. The Woolly Worm Festival has been ...
- Nobel winners made possible predictions of global warming and modern weather forecasting | Opinionon October 14, 2021 at 3:30 am
As a climate scientist myself, I was excited to learn that, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics ...
- Weather Folklore: Can shooting stars help forecast the weather?on October 13, 2021 at 1:14 pm
Can high flying shooting stars actually predict future weather patterns at the surface? I’ve been researching different weather folklores and where they came from over ...
- Predictions call for high precipitation, potentially colder weather for winter seasonon October 12, 2021 at 12:16 pm
As Beaver County begins to see the first signs of autumn, meteorologists and weather forecasters are already looking toward winter in western Pennsylvania. According to various seasonal ...
- Woolly weather predictions: Can they really predict the weather? Entomologist weighs inon October 12, 2021 at 2:47 am
Everyone in New York has seen them. Little black and brown furry caterpillars that inch their way across sidewalks. But can they predict the weather?
- Predicting the weather in space is hard but this new satellite could make it easieron October 7, 2021 at 7:12 am
The Australian-made space weather satellite CUAVA-1 was deployed into orbit from the International Space Station on Wednesday night.