Ubiquitous computing, or the age of calm technology, where technology recedes into the background of our lives, it is named the third wave in computing.
Pervasive computing is an idea that almost any device, from clothing to tools to appliances to cars to homes to the human body, can be imbedded with chips to connect the device to an infinite network of other devices. The goal of pervasive computing is to create an environment where the connectivity of devices is embedded in such a way that the connectivity is unobtrusive and always available.
The research of this project was mostly facilitated by secondary research, going through research papers to understand the attributes of ubicomp as well as current trends in weather forecasting.
My interest in Ubicomp basically lied in Calm technology, where the interaction between technology and its user is designed to occur in the users periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Information shifts to the users attention when needed but otherwise stays calmly in users periphery.
Currently we consume weather forecast largely in the fashion below:
This representation of weather is quantitative and exact numerical depiction of weather is hardly of value to the user.
Natural representation of weather at home.
Type: Feel | Touch
This idea was conceived from inputs, concerned with weather forecast to know if cloths must be dried out in the open or indoors. Here the user feels the weather by touching the cloth. If the cloth is dry and warm its going to be a sunny day, if the cloth is moist and wet the user can expect rain.
Another concern around weather prediction was what accessories must be carried before heading out for home?
This mannequin remains lifeless until a user comes in its vicinity, when the user is detected the mannequin comes to life, shows what needs to carried before you leave home for the day, as if depicting your own self later in the day. These accessories are projected onto the mannequin.
Inspired from the most natural human behaviour of weather forecasting from home - looking out of the window. What if a glance at your window would show you the future, of how outside would be some hours from now. Window view detects presence and simulates weather and goes back to being a normal window thereafter.
This exploration was an attempt to represent weather in an aesthetic, ambient and abstract way. The canvas would be blank initially, when the user looks at the canvas, paint starts to flow. The color and the amount and direction of flow would depict weather forecast. The ink is vaporised in a few seconds and the canvas is blank again. The user would see a new painting each time.
Moocast is a table top device inspired from historic ways of weather forecasting, where farmers looked for signs of bad weather in the behavioural changes of their animals. Cows were particularly believed to predict arrival of bad weather, now a scientifically proven fact. Moocast also takes into consideration human behaviour in various weather conditions and tries to mimic it in an abstract way.
Moocast knows the context, connected to your smartphone it gathers events of the day from your calendar and informs you about the weather. Inspired from the notion of Calm Technology, Moocast always remains in the periphery of your attention, gathering information through the internet. It detects user presence by its camera and displays weather forecast based on the users events and location.
A cold rehydrating beverage is all you long for on a hot sunny day. The cows in the Moocast barn walk to the water source and quench their thirst, letting you know that the day ahead is going to be sunny and warm. The number of cows that drink water is relative to the weather. If the forecast predicts scorching heat all cows would walk to the water source and rehydrate, on the other hand if its going to be just slightly warm then one or two cows would walk and sip.
Rain causes life to come to a stand still. We prefer to stay indoors dry and comfortable. In Moocast, the barn is home for the cows. When the forecast predicts showers, the cows sit down, being relative again heavy shower would cause all cows to sit down where as light showers would cause only a few to.
Farmers predicted bad weather when their cows sat down and this usually meant heavy rains, the scientific reason being - cows sit to conserve heat and energy for the bad weather ahead.
When the weather is chilly there is nothing better than a soft blanket to wrap around you, it keeps you warm and cozy. In Moocast the cows stay warm by coming close to each other. If all the cows are close, expect a very cold day ahead, carry a jacket. If only a few of the cows are close to each other expect a mildly chilly weather.
Time of the day
The casing around Moocast is a see through display. The casing represents the environment around the cows and the change in color of this casing is used to represent the time of the day. The colors gradually change and blend into one another as the Moocast predicts the weather conditions for the day.
Centre of Attention
Moocast works in the periphery of your attention, collecting information and representation it in a simple way. But, when your attention is required (e.g. : in case of bad weather) Moocast moves to the centre of your attention by the sound of ringing bells.
Moocast also uses audio feedback to depict change in user (if multiple users are in the vicinity of the device) as weather forecast could be different for different users (e.g. : travelling to another city, important event in calendar etc.). Each user can customize and personalize their tone.