Haptic cube lets you feel tomorrow's temps

February 7, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Will it be an invention joining a storage room of other inventions? Or kicked further up to gadget boutiques for the very rich? Or a popular gadget for many worldwide? Whatever its destiny, the device concept of a haptic weather cube has been making the rounds of tech-gadget sites. Robb Godshaw is the creator of the device, which he calls the Cryoscope. This, he says, is a haptic weather forecaster, which he demonstrates in a video.

He shows an aluminum cube that was designed to let you feel what tomorrow’s weather will be. Beyond numbers, beyond weather-page icons, he has devised what is intended to be a useful way for people to get a sense, literally, of the temperature for the following day.

“One year ago,” he said, “I designed and built a small wooden cube with a metal surface on top. This device’s only function was to get very cold. It was a conceptual piece which I presented as a sort of desktop dynamic sculpture. Recently I was thinking about ways information about weather is conveyed. I found myself disappointed in systems that rely on numbers which have little to do with how humans perceive hot and cold. I sought to develop a device that conveyed the forecast in a manner which left nothing to the imagination."

Godshaw also said that “The Cryoscope shows the user exactly what to expect outside by haptically exhibiting exactly how cold or warm it is to be outside. The user simply touches an cube that has been heated or cooled to the appropriate temperature. The unit fetches weather data from the internet, and translates it to the cube physically, pumping heat in or out of the cube.”

Haptic cube lets you feel tomorrow's temps

An Arduino controller connected to the cube is the brains behind the operations. As the concept goes, the user enters location information into a web application. The cube is automatically adjusted to the temperature according to the next-day forecast. Then, the user touches the Cryoscope to feel that temperature.

Inside the cube is a Peltier thermoelectric element, which is used to pump heat in and out of the chassis, said Godshaw. Also encased in the cube are heat sink and cooling fan. The neutral state of the cube is about 85°F(30°C), which is perceived as neutral by the skin. The cube is then adjusted by the number of degrees that forecast differs from typical room temperature (73°F/23°C), according to Godshaw.

Godshaw describes his work as “tinkerer” at Syyn Labs and “a maker of funky whats-its.” (At Rochester Institute of Technology’s Industrial Design program, he developed edible cupcake liners and a no. 2 pencil making machine.) At the Los Angeles-based Syyn Labs, which creates interactive art for agencies, brands and production companies, his official title is associate engineer.

While the Cryoscope is not to be found on store shelves any day soon, Godshaw said that, “As far as commercialization, the prospect is being seriously considered."

Explore further: The math of the Rubik's cube

More information: robb.cc/

Related Stories

The math of the Rubik's cube

June 29, 2011

Last August, 30 years after the Rubik’s cube first appeared, an international team of researchers proved that no matter how scrambled a cube got, it could be solved in no more than 20 moves. Although the researchers ...

LightRadio breakthroughs

February 8, 2011

The world of mobile communications moves fast. With new mobile devices, new applications and ever-growing and changing consumer demands the wireless networks in use today have to evolve. Rather than take an incremental approach ...

High-precision robots available in kit form

June 17, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A doctoral student from EPFL's Laboratory of Robotics Systems has developed a concept for modular industrial robots, based on the technology of parallel robots, whose precision is expressed in nanometers.

Sugar cube size supercomputers

November 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- IBM labs in Zurich may very well shrink a supercomputer processor down to the size of a sugar cube making it almost 50% more energy-efficient than the world's leading supercomputers.

Recommended for you

Google, EU dig in for long war

July 20, 2017

Google and the EU are gearing up for a battle that could last years, with the Silicon Valley behemoth facing a relentless challenge to its ambition to expand beyond search results.

Strengthening 3-D printed parts for real-world use

July 20, 2017

From aerospace and defense to digital dentistry and medical devices, 3-D printed parts are used in a variety of industries. Currently, 3-D printed parts are very fragile and only used in the prototyping phase of materials ...

Swimming robot probes Fukushima reactor to find melted fuel

July 19, 2017

An underwater robot entered a badly damaged reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, capturing images of the harsh impact of its meltdown, including key structures that were torn and knocked out of place.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
Cute gadget, but otherwise no practical use.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2012
Cute gadget, but otherwise no practical use.

Agreed, but the same can be said of the pet rock and many other useless social toys of the past. It's all in the marketing.
Feb 07, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2012
no practical use? then why are you watching the weather channel?
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2012
@baud - you get more from the weather channel than the temp.

It will come with the following warning:
"not to be used during winter in alaska, siberia, or the canadian northwest territories. Do not lick."
not rated yet Feb 07, 2012
You could shape it like a rock, hang it from a wire, put it outside and discover a very old joke.

not rated yet Feb 08, 2012
Another energy wasting and unnecessary gadget - just think about the inefficiency of the Peltier thermoelectric element. -

But you are right: "Stick an Apple logo on it and watch it sell." - Unfortunately.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.