Ambient displays

Here in Boston, we have an ambient weather display built into the skyline: the old Hancock building (not to be confused with the sleeker newer Hancock tower by I.M. Pei) has a beacon atop it that changes color with the weather. There’s even a little rhyme to help you remember how it works.

Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds are due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead

During baseball season, the flashing red signal is means the Red Sox game has been rained out. Cocktail party conversation tidbit: a few years ago, opening day was delayed because of snow, making both senses of the flashing red signal true.

If you don’t live in Boston, you can now use the Ambient Weather Beacon from Ambient Devices. It uses a slightly different semaphore to get the message across.

The Beacon … glows more red when warmer weather is forecasted, and colder blue hues if cooler temperatures are on the way. The Beacon will also subtly pulse to show the chance of rain or snow.

A quick glance is sufficient to tell you which coat to grab on your way out the door. The Economist just ran an article about Ambient that includes this quote from the company’s CEO David Rose, “There’s a fallacy that more details are better,” he says. “What you actually want is awareness first and details on demand.” Details are vastly overrated.

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