BBC Weather Revamps with Weatherscape XT

BBC Weather are revamping their reports with a new application from Metra that will allow them to make accurate 3D depictions of current weather conditions.

Weatherscape XT is also capable of automatically repurposing 3D weather information to other platforms – like 3G phones for example.This would make weather information in interactive services far more localised and perhaps even customised to each user – and 3D weather reports on mobile phones could be a potential revenue stream.

The BBC is hoping that 3D flythroughs and zooming into topographical areas will improve understanding and retention of what the weather is actually doing. “We hope that by showing the weather that will actually go over your head, you will know whether it is going to be sunny or cloudy where you are” said Colin Tregear, project director at the BBC’s Weather Centre. Well, if someone still can’t work it out from that, perhaps it’s in everyone’s interest just to stay at home.

Weatherscape takes data from the Met Office and can generate the required graphical tour in real time, whereas the current graphics take around four hours per broadcast on the existing six year old system.

The system is PC based and requires a couple of dual Xeon servers for the database. Broadcasters’ terminals are simply PCs with high-end, though off the shelf, graphics cards in them. The BBC has described the shift to the new system as rather like the leap from Super Nintendo to the XBox. I’m sure that’ll make a lot of sense to my mother.

Metra, a New Zealand company, have already licensed the system to CNBC, TVNZ and Australia’s Nine Network.

I, predictably, miss the days of magnetic clouds stuck onto metal boards, kipper ties and outrageous facial hair.

Weatherscape XT

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?