What if you could learn tomorrow’s weather forecast by watching it play out within a glass box in your living room—rain, storm, clouds, or shine?
Thanks to the Tempescope, a magical ambient weather device invented by Google software engineer Ken Kawamoto, this may soon be a reality.
This meteorological crystal ball works by syncing to users’ smartphones, then culling weather data from around the internet and rendering it in a beautiful physical display.
If tomorrow’s weather will be overcast, wisps of white vapor pulse and whirl within the glass chamber. If it will rain, water droplets condense and fall beneath a cool blue LED glow. When storms brew nearby, mists rise into the central prism and phantasmal lights flash like ripples of lightning. And when the forecast predicts warmth and sun, the mists settle and the chamber radiates orange and amber light.
By default, the Tempescope forecasts weather for the following day, but users can set readings to display current conditions or even to reflect foreign skies.
Kawamoto created the first prototype for the Tempescope in 2012 by fashioning a crude contraption out of air and water pumps and a one-dollar shampoo bottle. His inspiration stemmed from the desire to “always have the sunshine and the occasional tropical thunderstorms of the Okinawa isles in [his] living room.”
As the concept garnered more attention, he streamlined the technology and developed the current Tempescope design, which features sleek metallic edges and a translucent central weather chamber. He then posted the code to Open Source so that anyone from anywhere in the world could reproduce the project at home using only simple tools.
In September, after receiving an overwhelmingly positive public response, Kawamoto and his team of developers launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in hopes of making the prototype a manufacturable reality.
Unfortunately, despite garnering over $280,000 USD to put towards developing the Tempescope for consumer markets, the team fell significantly short of their $390,000 USD goal.
For now, all project backers will be refunded, the OpenTempescope page will remain active for public use, and the team will continue to meet with distributors to discuss the feasibility of skipping crowdfunding altogether and sending the product straight to stores.
“The last two months […] have been a really exciting journey for us,” Kawamoto wrote, “as well as being a painful but valuable learning experience.”
It’s inventions like the Tempescope, which arise from the confluence of art and engineering, of natural phenomena and technology, that usher magic into our daily human experience. Despite the monetary setbacks, the design team has not yet given up on creating this extraordinary device.
They are currently experimenting with training the mist diffuser to express different types of clouds, from stratus to cumulonimbus-like formations, as well as different variations of rain. They hope that in the future, the Tempescope will also be capable of simulating snow and thunder.
Feature photo courtesy of Nithya Ramanujam.