Most weather apps use satellite images and weather sensors at airports to bring you the latest forecast. Those reports describe, with varying accuracy, the weather in your general area. But what if, instead of relying on faraway devices for your weather updates, you could just poll the people around you?
That’s exactly what the new weather app Sunshine is doing. By crowdsourcing their weather data—as well as employing more traditional weather reporting devices—the app provides hyper-localized weather reports called “Nowcasts.” It’ll tell you, for instance, whether it’s raining outside your house, but not a neighborhood over.
According to WIRED, Sunshine wants to help increase the accuracy of weather reporting: co-founder Katerina Stroponiati told WIRED that a full 73 percent of the population distrusts traditional weather forecasts. But the app is also supposed to be fun. She explains, “Users that update often but also get a lot of upvotes get more weight. There is a whole gaming scheme behind it with local leaderboards and titles… As you get more points, you change titles and climb higher on the leaderboards.”
Stroponiati explains that as more users join the app, it will become more accurate and more specific. Right now, there aren’t enough users to give you a block by block weather report, but hopefully that will soon change.
The app also utilizes the barometric sensors on individual iPhones to collect data. Stroponiati hopes that as iPhone sensors become increasingly sophisticated, Sunshine will be able to provide more and more information about our local environments: Stroponiati told WIRED, “People are suffering from pollen and air pollution everywhere in the world. With air pollution, allergy, humidity sensors, Sunshine will not only be able to create forecasts with great accuracy but also to make everyone aware of the environment they live in.”