Microsoft, through its “Garage”, has tackled a weird and wonderful variety of app projects in its short existence. As something of a ‘pressure valve’ for the firm, it allows engineers and developers to work on whatever their hearts desire, often with compelling results.
One recent project, “Your Weather”, has managed to catch even more attention than usual; its trick? Monitoring air pollution. And the direction it has managed to take with this proves to be even more surprising.
As a rapidly industrializing nation that has pursued relentless economic growth for decades, China has developed a problem with pollution, as might be expected; and yet is something that the Chinese authorities become a little tetchy regarding.
“Your Weather” is remarkable in that, despite the general mistrust of American companies, and the reticence in dealing with the public issue of pollution, it is data gained from official pollution measures that allows it to perform its analysis of air quality in the Beijing area, among others.
Jointly developed with MSR Asia and the China Meteorological Association, through Microsoft Garage, the app boasts a 75% accuracy rate within every 6 hour window in the capital, making it excellent for short term use.
This is achieved through the use of Azure machine learning, which processes the data in such a way that it is possible for readings to vary per square kilometer, a significant degree of accuracy.
As efforts continue to combat the effects of pollution throughout China, among other countries experiencing similar phases of industrial growth across the globe, efforts like this could potentially be of great convenience to smartphone users. Currently, the app is only available to Windows Phone and Android users, and only pulls data for China. However, should the service see some popularity, it may be the case that the service is expanded to other countries and operating systems in future.
Will you be making use of this? What project would you like to see the Microsoft Garage tackle next? Let us know in the comments below.