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Infographic of the Day: Google’s Wiz of Data Viz Creates High Tech Weather “Cloud”

A charming high-tech weather report hangs from the ceiling at San Jose’s airport.

The next time you fly into the San Jose airport on a trip to pump VCs for cash, look up and you might see eCloud, a new data visualization that shows weather patterns from around the world.

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The hanging installation, created by Aaron Koblin, Nik Hafermas, and Dan Goods, is composed of a series of LCD-embedded plastic panels, which collectively look something like an 8-bit cloud shifting under the weather’s influence — at certain times, for example, it can appear to be an angry thundercloud, at others it looks like fog. Every few minutes, the cloud depicts the weather in a different city, and a nearby computer gives you precise details about what’s going on.

The shimmering effect arises because each panel turns opaque when electricity passes through it. These are controlled by 100 circuit boards, rigged to the computer kiosk nearby, which is constantly downloading weather data from NOAA. It sends weather pattern data that controls the e-cloud.

The project’s creators are all demigods of geekery: Koblin is a data viz master and top staffer at Google Creative Labs; Hafermas, a one-time partner at Triad Berlin, one of Europe’s biggest design firms; and Goods, who, at the Jet Propulsion Lab, has created installations of aerogel and drilled holes into grains of sand. The commission for eCloud came after they won an open competition in 2007 among 100 teams to design a permanent art installation in the San Jose Airport.

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E-Cloud-2

E-Cloud-2

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[Pics via Dan Goods]

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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