March 19, 2017

Listening to the Weather

I've been writing up some entries on the MCQN Ltd catalogue today (that in itself is something I'll be writing about at some point, and when I do then entries #ibal155 and #ibal164 will link to the explanations, rather than basic holding pages), including #ibal53, a project I did for Russell Davies to help him with his experiments in background audio.

That reminded me that these days I tend to tell the weather aurally rather than visually.

Not when I want detailed information about the weather, then I look out of the window and often at passing cars' windscreen wipers as they're a good indicator of how heavily it's raining (when it isn't raining heavily enough for that to be obvious).

But for a general ambient awareness of precipitation levels I use my ears. I'm particularly interested in whether or not it's raining because that's the overriding factor in my decision to go for a ride. Cycling in warm, sunny weather is always nice, but I have the correct attire to be equally happy when it's cold or dark or windy. I do end up cycling in the rain a reasonable amount (and do have waterproofs to wear if need be) but that's usually when I skip it.

Both at my desk and at home, I'm near enough to a main road for there to be a background level of road noise, and there is a distinctive difference between the sound of rubber on a dry road and rubber on a wet road.

I do get an additional ambient visual indicator of particularly good days at home. The blinds in my bedroom allow a reasonable amount of daylight through, so I can tell the difference between a sunny and a non-sunny day when I wake up.

And all that reminds me of a conversation I had with Rob Annable. One of the "problems" with his lovely highly-insulated new home is that it ends up a little disconnected from the outside world.

I wonder if you could replicate that with a minor extension to Russell's sound boxes? Add a controllable light source (something a bit like an uplighter, which provides a wash of colour across a wall) to build a single-pixel display with a speaker for background sound. Then it could provide a weather forecast in the same ambient form that I get the current weather.

Posted by Adrian at March 19, 2017 02:35 PM | TrackBack

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