A GPS is not enough: Weathermob wants to contextualize location data
Whining about the weather isn't going to change anything. The sun will still beat against the pavement, moisture will still cling to your clothes, and the rain will still fall. There's something cathartic about commiserating with other people experiencing the same weather, though. What else are you going to talk about when the deliveryman comes to your apartment for the fifth time this week because you don't want to leave your air-conditioned living room?
Weathermob wants to bring this elemental kvetching to the entire globe. The service allows users to snap a picture of their surroundings, share the image with notes about the current condition -- the temperature, the conditions, and so on -- with other users, and create a social network based around such reports. The company is today announcing that it has raised $650,000 from a number of angel investors to expand that service and continue gathering up-to-the-minute weather updates from its users.
Such data has become increasingly plentiful and valuable of late, as my colleague Hamish McKenzie covered in his report on nowcasting, which is exactly what it sounds like. Traditional weather reports are woefully inaccurate -- as anyone who has walked into a downpour right after the weatherman predicts a 40 percent chance of rain can attest -- and rely on stale data updated just a few times each day. New services seek to change that, and Weathermob believes that it can do so by encouraging easy, social sharing among its users.
The company's end goal isn't necessarily to become a weather-focused social network, however. Social tools, which allow users to easily share photos and report the weather with simple emoticons and symbols that would be at home on any other social service, simply encourage more sharing, which leads to more data. Eventually the company hopes to make weather conditions as important to other apps and services as location is today.
"We come from the school that contextualization is everything," says Weathermob CEO Julia LaStage. "If you have a plot point but you don't have a story around it it's not worth as much on many levels." Our decisions are often made based on the current weather -- how many times have you canceled plans because it was raining? -- and the ability to use that data to inform the services we use each day could be incredibly valuable.
You might not want to walk through the rain to get dinner, for example. Maybe you'll choose to visit air-conditioned places or stay in your apartment if it's muggy. Perhaps you would go to an earlier movie showing if you knew that it would rain during, but not before or after, the film is done. Providing good recommendations hinges upon a user's context, and the weather just might be the only thing that everyone in a given area has in common outside of their general location. So many services know where you are at any given moment -- soon they might know about the weather, too.
[Image courtesy DaDaAce]