Weather station watches the clouds and sources the crowd
Personal weather stations can prove to be practical, either because forecasts aren't quite accurate enough and/or one simply has an interest in understanding local micro-climates. BloomSky, which successfully introduced its first-gen weather network two years ago, is back on Kickstarter to raise funds for its latest, complete weather camera system. The Storm and Sky2 devices are designed to collect and broadcast comprehensive weather data to users and followers in real-time.
Although consumer-grade weather tracking stations aren't particularly new, options for compact, self-contained, mobile-connected systems seem to be few and far between. BloomSky originally captured the attention of enthusiasts and aspiring meteorologists with the Sky1 outdoor module. The host of sensors, Wi-Fi connectivity, ultra wide-angle HD camera, and easy installation offered appealing accessibility.
Like its predecessor, the Sky2 is designed with sensors to measure temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and precipitation, as well as a built-in HD camera that snaps a color photo every five minutes. This newer unit is more like a refreshed model that gains Bluetooth connectivity for faster set-ups at the cost of losing the UV light sensor. Those who own the Sky1 won't necessarily need to upgrade to the Sky2.
But it's the BloomSky Storm that makes good on the company's promise of delivering a more complete weather camera system. This all-new device measures wind speed, wind direction, total rainfall, and UV radiation – the UV light sensor was moved here for improved accuracy.
Storm acts as an accessory by pairing to either the Sky1 or Sky2 in order to communicate the recorded data wirelessly. Users can expect to measure wind speeds with an accuracy of 1 m/s, wind direction in eight compass points, and collected rain with tipping cup accuracy of 0.2 mm per tip.
Product construction has been designed and tested to withstand extreme outdoor conditions ranging from biting cold (down to -4 ºF / -20 ºC) to blistering heat (up to 131 ºF / 55 ºC), whether there be gusty winds, dusty storms, or relentless downpour. The Storm and Sky2 pack internal batteries that last up to two weeks per charge. Users can also take advantage of the new solar panel connection feature as a wireless alternative to A/C power.
A new mounting kit allows the systems to be attached to walls, roofs, or railings in addition to being staked into the ground – a tripod stand is available separately. Location is key, since the Storm and Sky2 require a nearby wireless network to transmit all the information to the BloomSky Cloud. Data is accessible via mobile app on iOS or Android devices, which is where things get more interesting.
The BloomSky mobile app aggregates and displays the information being gathered by all owned tracking stations. Users can choose to browse/broadcast local weather changes, send/receive notifications, or post weather reports to the BloomSky community.
This crowd-sourced network grants individuals a peek – quite literally through the lenses of the HD cameras – into the micro-climates of others, with an option to favorite or follow devices like a social network. And at the end of the day, people can enjoy the time-lapse video compiled of all the photographs taken of the sky.
BloomSky's Kickstarter campaign has raised over 318 percent of its US$80,000 goal in a week, with another 35 days left of funding to go. Pledges for the BloomSky Storm (with its solar panel) start at $89. Higher tiers offer the Sky2 device separately and/or as a package with Storm, complete with solar panels and complimentary mounts and/or tripod stands (sold separately after the campaign).
The company claims to have designed, developed, and tested Storm and Sky2 prototypes. So if production goes according to plan, backers can expect shipments to start as early as this September.