Berg was a revolutionary British design consultancy that specialized in designing charming, single-serving gadgets that visualized Internet data that would otherwise feel impersonal: for example, the adorable Little Printer, or their amusing Twitter birdhouses. But while Berg is now hibernating, the spirit of the company lives on in Weather Systems, a triptych of cute little gadgets that bring the next 10 minutes of weather into your living room.
Designed by U.K. advertising agency Uniform, the visualizations are powered by Dark Sky, a weather service that specializes in making hyperlocal, short-term weather predictions. Instead of trying to predict what the weather might do tonight or tomorrow, Dark Sky concerns itself with the elements only for the next 10 minutes or so, alerting users on their smartphones only when it’s just about to rain or snow.
Uniform’s three modular toys bring Dark Sky into the living room. Almost like a premonition, these three white boxes begin to react to the weather before it starts, each with a unique affordance. The first gadgets rotates a color wheel from blue (cold)to red (hot) to show the temperature range outside. The second uses pattering plastic pins to fill your house with the sound of a rainstorm that has yet to start. The faster the pins start moving, the more intense the rain is falling. And the third acts like a digital weather vane, twirling in anticipation of a blustery front ten minutes away.
Unfortunately, Uniform’s Weather Systems are conceptual products, and not available for sale. It’s a shame, because so much of the data lives exclusively on our smartphones right now, and I want to see it break free and become an array of whimsical devices. From that perspective, Uniform’s Weather Systems seem to me like the household barometers of the 21st century. Visions of Berg, indeed.