21 May '15
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor
Innovators in the mid-Volga area have come up with their own solution to the age-long problem of notoriously imprecise official weather forecasts. Radiotechnology-NN, a young innovative company drawing upon tremendous experience that the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod has in fundamental sciences, has invented what it claims is a self-learning system enabling targeted weather forecasts and monitoring in specific limited areas with “a spatial resolution of several meters”—an improvement that skeptics would fittingly call a bit fanciful given today’s traditional forecasts that offer spatial resolutions of more than 20-30 square kilometers and still err in many instances. But check it out for yourself now. The METEO project developers have already made a positive impression in the U.S.
The Nizhny innovators are developing a state-of-the-art hardware and software complex which they say is smart enough to generate local weather forecasts and produce microclimate analysis taking into account a variety of ground objects, such as buildings or groups of buildings, trees, etc.; topography, including hills, gullies and other unevenness alike; water bodies, including subterranean waters; and other features.
The METEO complex is said to be able to provide accurate data on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, luminance levels on the ground, moisture in soils, air and/or water contamination, as well as a number of other customizable parameters such as radio-frequency emission intensity. To enhance precision, the new system taps data sent from surrounding METEO units as well as external meteorological services, both government and private.
METEO’s weather forecast functionality can be utilized in both stand-along meteorological stations and as an integrated unit with various production control systems at factories, ‘smart house’ systems, and solutions that provide people with in-home medical checkup possibilities.
This is yet another in a series of high-tech projects originating from the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod (UNN), a major fundamental research and education hub for the entire mid-Volga area since 1916. Radiotechnology-NN, its four-year-old spin-off, is currently planning a move from today’s test sales to commercial-scale business.
In October 2013, the project team visited the University of Maryland to meet up with potential partners and investors. The trip was financed by the US-Russia Foundation under the EURECA Program, a bilateral initiative aimed at enhancing Russian universities’ research and entrepreneurial capacity.
The American tour bore fruit: the Nizhny Novgorod innovators began collaboration with Earth Networks, a U.S. company owning and operating a global online meteorological business project called WeatherBug.
How it works
With its declared ultra-high spatial resolution—just a few meters, Radiotechnology-NN says—the complex, built around a network of wireless sensors, appears to be a cut above most of the existing meteorological systems available in the market. According to the developers, it is based on machine learning algorithms; once deployed in an area that needs long-term monitoring, METEO’s measuring units can interact wirelessly and eventually develop themselves into a self-contained system that would automatically learn to generate as accurate a forecast as possible and monitor specific microclimate parameters in this particular area.
At the core of the new design is a sensor network technology enabling the integration of sensors geared for any measurement, including what’s known as ‘chemical weather’ (chemical pollutants in the air).
One of METEO’s key components which Radiotechnology-NN hopes will have special appeal for weather-sensitive businesses is a geoinformation system, a ‘personal business planner’ for company owners to resourcefully strategize based on monitoring results. Another competitive advantage are server systems that can aid a large number of users and are believed to be able to generate recommendations on how to do business dependent on weather conditions in a given area at a certain moment in time.
The Nizhny innovators have also developed special mobile apps for smartphones powered by all platforms currently available to promptly alert users to a critical change of weather and enable them to easily view the status of areas that are being monitored.
Offering solutions to government, business, and private individuals
With a whole array of potential customers the university spin-off is already getting a toehold in several market segments. Its METEO is a B2G product for relevant government agencies, such as municipal and emergency services. For a wide range of weather-sensitive industries, including agribusinesses, real estate developers, corporate land owners, recreation businesses, transportation firms, small river boat companies, etc., it looks like an interesting B2B project to keep tabs on.
It is a B2C product, too. Alexey Umnov, one of the architects of the ambitious project, said the company has developed an entry-level METEO option for household use by private real estate owners and also by the 35% of ailing individuals across the globe which statistics says develop weather-induced physical conditions. With its limited number of sensors such a home meteorological station has an essential networking capability, he added. Different stations can apparently link up via the Internet to create a network capable of generating quality weather forecasts in areas covering close neighbors, neighborhoods, and towns.