John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The desktop Tempescope mimics storms and lightning by flashing, dripping, and fogging.
To check tomorrow’s weather, you could open an app or turn on the local news. For something less boring, you could also consult a Tempescope, a caged atmosphere that simulates looming clouds, thunderstorms, and pouring rain.
Tokyo-based software engineer Ken Kawamoto dreamed up this strange artifact a couple years ago after visiting the Mariana Islands and thinking “how great it would be if he could just take the skies home with him,” according to a new Indiegogo campaign. His first prototype was crafted from shampoo bottles. With the help an LED, an ultrasonic diffuser, and water and air pumps, it could whip up sunrises and tiny storms on his bookshelf.
Soon after, Kawamoto and friends released open-source plans for hobbyists who wished to make their own Tempescopes. The schematics are thorough, but require significant cash and electronics skill. So now they’re taking it to the next level with an ambitious crowd-funding effort ($398,000!), hoping to ship simple-to-build, $199 kits all over the world by next spring. Here’s more from their campaign:
Introducing the tempescope… [a] physical display that reproduces various weather conditions according to the weather forecast. It’s like having a window that lets you look outside at tomorrow’s sky.
It can produce conditions like rain… clouds… lightning… and of course sunshine....
With a tempescope, you don't have to open an app to find out if it’s going to rain today—just take a glance as you leave the house!
The device syncs with your phone to model weather in your ‘hood or, if you have friends and family around the globe, the weather where they live. You can also set it to drip water or fill up with fog at your whim, as you zone out and pretend you’re a storm-making god. The current iteration mimics purple lightning, but not thunder, snow, or the almighty firenado—though Kawamoto and company promise to look into such things in a “few years.”