A group of smartphone app developers and weather experts have created a way to use the temperature sensors built into smartphone batteries to crowdsource weather information. The small thermometers help prevent smartphones from overheating, but have been found to also reveal details about the environment around them.
The team crowdsourced hundreds of thousands of temperature readings from phones running the OpenSignal Android app. They estimated daily average temperatures for eight major cities around the world and calculated air temperatures within an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of the actual value.
These would get more accurate as more users joined the system and could lead to continuously updated weather predictions. Whereas weather reports currently provide one temperature for an entire city and a handful of readings expected throughout a day, this technique could provide real-time, location-specific reports. James Robinson, co-founder of London-based app developer OpenSignal that discovered the method, said:
The ultimate end is to be able to do things we’ve never been able to do before in meteorology and give those really short-term and localized predictions. In London you can go from bright and sunny to cloudy in just a matter of minutes. We’d hope someone would be able to decide when to leave their office to get the best weather for their lunch break.