An ambient information display is an indicator which conveys meaningful data non-verbally. Unlike a computer screen which must be actively read, an ambient display needs no mental “mode shift” to interpret, and often just sits in one’s peripheral vision. The low fuel light on a car’s dashboard is an example of an ambient display.

This project uses our Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 wireless microcontroller board to pull a forecast from the accuweather.com web site, then distills this to its barest essence: good news or bad news? Yes or no?

AccuWeather was chosen because it offers some interesting forecasts beyond the usual temperature or precipitation: there’s predictions for health concerns like allergies or arthritis, or for leisure activities like golf or sailing. Personally I’d found their migraine forecast to be helpful at times…problem is, I’d forget to check it, and when symptoms have already hit there’s usually no recourse but to tough it out. So my idea was to build an early warning system…it periodically checks the forecast and provides a simple reminder. Flashing light = bad news, have the Excedrin ready! That’s all. No numbers to interpret, no buttons to click on, just an immediate and intuitive course of action.

This can be adapted to all kinds of things…it doesn’t have to be so grim…consider the site’s “astronomy” or “outdoor DIY project” weather forecasts as a more upbeat thing to track. I plan to build a second one as a “good biking weather” indicator!

DISCLAIMER: This is not a medical diagnostic or treatment tool. The example mentioned here — migraine headaches — is serious enough that one should discuss symptoms with their doctor first. I did…as it turns out, my headaches are neither chronic nor technically always migraines…so finding personal solutions wasn’t unreasonable. I’d just happened to notice a frequent correlation with this site’s forecast (perhaps due to barometric changes…many folks experience the same for arthritis symptoms).

Last updated on 2016-03-16 at 11.20.14 PM Published on 2016-03-20 at 09.47.39 PM