Saturday, October 24th, 2009
Thinking of putting a wind turbine in your backyard? Mariah Power is introducing a program that will let you measure the wind speed around your house by pointing your iPhone toward the sky.
The application uses the phone’s microphone to capture wind noise. It filters out ambient sound and an algorithm converts the result into a decibel rating that corresponds to wind speed, according to Bill Westerman, a principal at Create with Context, a Silicon Valley digital design company that developed the app for Mariah.
“If you go out in your backyard and do a few measurements it gives you a pretty good idea of the wind speed and tells you what kinds of things you could power with a wind turbine,” said Mr. Westerman.
Mariah, based in Reno, Nev., makes the Windspire, 1.2-kilowatt residential turbine with horizontal blades that looks more like a piece of modern art than a conventional windmill.
The company designed the 30-foot-tall turbine to operate in areas with a minimum average wind speed of 10 miles per hour.
“If I ask how much wind do you have outside, most people wouldn’t know,” said Amy Berry, a Mariah spokeswoman. “People can hold their iPhone up in their air and say, ‘Oh I do have 10 m.p.h. wind.’”
Ms. Berry cautioned that the iPhone app was designed more as a marketing and consciousness-raising tool rather than as a scientific instrument to determine a backyard’s suitability for a wind turbine.
“You need to know wind speed over the course of a year, and our dealers are all trained to do onsite assessments,” she said. “We’re using the app as a way to get people thinking about wind more.”
To that end, users can also pinpoint the locations where they’ve taken wind-speed measurements, and share the maps with friends.
“Over time we’ll be building a database of geo-coded wind maps,” said Mr. Westerman.
He planned to submit the free Windspire app to Apple’s iTunes Store this week. It will face competition from the Wind Meter and Wind Speed, apps that also use the iPhone’s microphone to figure out how much the wind is blowing.
The accuracy of those applications has garnered mixed reviews from users. Mr. Westerman said he tested the Windspire app by comparing its readings to those of a wind-measuring device called an anemometer.
The app was accurate within 1.5 m.p.h., he said.
Original Post by Todd Woody, NYT
Mulling Wind Power? Check Your iPhone.