Low-cost Weather Forecast for Farmers Using Color Coding

This project aims to design and develop a low-cost weather forecasting solution in the context of Filipino farmers using a user-centered design approach.

The perception of color was used to represent a range of different weather conditions for a tropical country like the Philippines which only has two sets of weather, the sunny and rainy seasons. The more red the color gets, the hotter or drier the weather will be while the same condition applies for the rainy seasons.

 

View the full article as featured in:

Predictable Designs

Project Type
  • Product Design & Development
  • Interaction Design

 

Initiator

Self-initiated project

 

Scope

Designed for the needs of Filipino farmers (Philippines)

Design Methods
  • Contextmapping
  • Base of the Pyramid and Emerging Markets
  • Tradeoff Analysis
  • Prototyping

 

Technologies Used
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Sketching
  • Arduino/Gizduino

This project is inspired by the resilience of the Filipino farmers and their weaponless battle against climate change.

Background

Knowing the coming weather for the next days is essential to farmers as it is crucial in their planning, purchasing, and application of fertilizers. Filipino farmers face major challenges such as damages caused by unexpected rain, droughts, and typhoons. The weather has been unpredictable these days and farmers cannot rely any longer on their traditional knowledge of weather patterns. Climate change has affected one of the most vulnerable and the poorest sectors, the farmers.

Weather forecasting could be a revolutionary tool for Filipino farmers in their daily farming activities but there are a lot of constraints to consider before fully realizing this life-saving technology to them.

Although, one of the bigger challenges in providing a solution for low-income individuals such as Filipino farmers is their capability to access to current technologies which is beyond the reach of their pocket.

Current weather forecasting solutions are very expensive or incompatible to the capabilities of the farmers. Aside from that, they struggle with many challenges such as language barriers, lower level of education which prevents them from accessing these technologies.

Establishing a Design Criteria

Based on our understanding of the farmers, criteria were set to enable us to limit our scope on what to design and what technologies are available:

  • Must be affordable
  • Must provide the medium range to long range weather forecast with reliable data (7-12 days)
  • Weather info must be real-time
  • Weather info must be based on farmer’s location
  • Can be used by a person of any/most language
  • Must be easy to use of any age or educational level
  • Must adapt to local culture and traditions
  • Must not harm the environment

Brainstorming

In order to make the design more culture friendly to the Filipinos farmers, the idea of using a traditional amulet called “agimat” was used as the source of inspiration.

Agimat is a traditional amulet in the Philippines that symbolizes strength and power

Trade-off Analysis

Cost of the product is a critical part of the design process since were designing for the people at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP).

About 40-50% of the total cost of most electronic products come from the electronic components. This is the reason why identifying the electronic components early on would better help us come up in balancing cost vs functionality vs requirements.

Design Concept

The infographic below summarizes the overall design concept of the device.

Basic Functionality

Upon turning ON, the device will automatically initialize the device, locate the user and find a network connection. Then, a weather data will be downloaded based on the user’s location and will automatically parse the data into the corresponding weather color codes.

The 10 LEDs will then display the color of the equivalent weather starting from today up to the next 10 days.

Weather Color Codes

There are only two identifiable weather conditions in the Philippines according to the farmers, the sunny and rainy weather. The intensity of heat and the heaviness of rain were matched to the color spectrum ranging in the order of red, yellow, blue and violet.

Hardware Design

On the earlier part, the trade-off analysis identified the parts needed to make our design functional. The three essential components comprise of the ATMega microcontroller, the SIM800 module and the 10 LEDs.

Functional Prototyping

To further validate the design, the components were gathered into a breadboard prototype. Then, software programming and debugging took place. Later on, the components were embedded into a single PCB prototype.

View the full article as featured in:

Predictable Designs