We did it! Thanks to all our backers for the amazing support. Android users: Check out our update for information on how you can help make an Android version of Dark Sky happen.
What Dark Sky is...
1) An accurate short-term weather predictor.
Dark Sky is an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that predicts the weather.
Using your precise location, it tells you when it will precipitate and for how long. For example: It might tell you that it will start raining in 8 minutes, with the rain lasting for 15 minutes followed by a 25 minute break.
How is it possible predict the weather down to the minute? What's the catch?
Well, the catch is that it only works over a short period of time: a half hour to an hour in the future. But, as it turns out, this timespan is crucially important. Our lives are filled with short-term outdoor activities: Travelling to and from work, walking the dog, lunch with friends, outdoor sports, etc.
How many of us have left our homes at the most inopportune moment, getting stuck in the rain because we didn't have prior warning and without the knowledge of how long it would last?
Dark Sky gives you that knowledge. And after using the prototype ourselves, we can't imagine life without it. It seems so strange to us now, to look outside and watch people get stuck in the rain.
Here are a couple examples of what the future prediction looks like:
2) A stunning and beautiful high-resolution weather radar display.
One of our biggest beefs with existing weather radar animations (those found in iOS apps, online, and on the news) is that they're clunky, jerky and hard to follow. Doppler radar stations only take new images every five to ten minutes, so instead of a smooth animation you're presented with a slideshow of a handful of still images. This makes it hard to get a sense of where the storms are coming from and where they're headed.
Using the same techniques we've developed for predicting rain, we can show you what the storm looks like in between the individual radar snapshots. We replace the jerky slideshow with a beautifully smooth interactive animation. And it's not just pretty... it's easier for your brain to process and understand a smoothly flowing video than a series of images that jump from point to point. Check out the video above for a comparison!
Dark Sky also lets you explore hours of past radar data. Why do most weather animations only show you a handful of the latest radar images? We don't know, but it sure is frustrating! With Dark Sky you can drag the storms back and forth through time, exploring hours of data at a stretch. Or drag it into the future, to see what the storms will look like over the next 60 minutes.
What Dark Sky isn't...
Dark Sky isn't a general-purpose weather app. It doesn't give you the temperature, humidity, dew point, or windspeed. It doesn't provide a daily forecast, or tell you what it'll be like this weekend. There are already apps for that. Our personal favorite is the built-in Weather app made by Apple, but there are also other well-designed apps out there, including: Shine, Aelios, and Magical Weather.
Some apps try to give you everything — current conditions, ten day forecasts, and radar — all wrapped up in one. These are universally clunky, slow and a pain in the ass to use.
Our philosophy is to remain extremely focused on a single core idea: weather radar. It is our hope that you will use Dark Sky alongside one of the great apps mentioned above.
Who we are
We're two guys, Jack Turner and Adam Grossman. We work as mild-mannered web / mobile developers, operating our company (Jackadam) out of an office in beautiful downtown Troy, NY.
Visit our website, at http://jackadam.net
What we need funding for
We have a working prototype, but now it's time to turn it into an actual app that others can use and enjoy! This involves two main components:
- Finishing the app itself. The prototype you see in the video is just a proof-of-concept, not a feature complete app. It's going to take several months of work and countless revisions and refinements to get it just right.
- Turning the backend system that pulls in and processes the radar data into a distributed, stable platform that can handle an entire nation's worth of data. With our current infrastructure, we're only able to process a small handful of radar stations in real-time. We'll need to improve and expand it, which is going to take a lot of time and effort. We'll also need the funds to rent the servers necessary to accomplish this.
Where the radar data comes from
The National Weather Service operates an array of over 140 doppler radar stations throughout the United States, and generously provides the data free to the general public (For more information, check out their site).Our servers pull in this data, process it, clean it, extract velocity data, and convert it to the animations you see in the above video.
Currently, Dark Sky only incorporates NWS radar data from the continental United States, so unfortunately only US residents will initially have access to the app. If successful, we hope to expand to other regions.