Crowdsourcing is pretty much in fashion these days, harnessing the resources of hundreds if not thousands of human beings in the world. And what resource is most commonly found in people's hands today if not for smartphones and tablets? This is the power that the folks at OpenSignal would like to tap into using the WeatherSignal app to gather weather data from across the world.
Devices today are equipped with so much sensors that would make a Star Trek tricorder proud. These sensors and their data can be used in other ways as well. For example, readings off the device's battery temperature monitor can be used, with some amount of filtering, to determine the temperature outside. These and other sensors can be used to measure different weather properties such air pressure and humidity. At least, that's theory OpenSignal is working to prove.
Using sensor data gathered from Android users all over the world, OpenSignal is trying to crowdsource the recording of weather data pattern across the globe. The WeatherSignal app is able to display information such as humidity, light, magnetic flux, and temperature, but these depend on the hardware capabilities of the device. The authors note, both in Play Store and in the app itself, that the temperature feature is still experimental, considering battery temperature can be affected by so many variables. Here's a video of the app in action.
The app is available for free on Play Store. Since it's a crowdsourcing project, the app, by default, will upload data, which authors promise are anonymized, to OpenSignal servers. This can be turned off if you want simply use the app as a weather reader, but that sort of defeats the point of the research.