Vaavud Wind Speed Indicator for Smartphones

With no electronic components whatsoever, the Vuuvud uses the magnetometer found inside many smartphones to determine the wind speed and direction.  

Ever wonder what the wind speed and direction is?  Maybe you are a model airplane or rocket enthusiast and need to know the current conditions?  Or a wind surfer, kite sailer or hang glider user?  Whatever reason, there should soon be a cost effective solution to your problem, the Vaavud wind speed indicator. 

With no electronic components whatsoever, the Vuuvud uses the magnetometer found inside many smartphones to determine the wind speed and direction.  It is designed to fit into the headphone jack of your smartphone (but is completely wireless, the plug is just a dummy).  You hold the device up in the air, and the cellphone senses the movement of two small magnets  rotating inside the Vuuvud at the current wind speed.  Then the app that comes with the device calculates wind speed based on movement of the two small magnets using software originally designed for sound processing.  

The device can determine wind direction as well.  Simply hold the device up facing the direction the wind is coming from and the app will indicate the direction, using the magnetometer as well as the compass module in the phone.  The device currently works with the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, ipad 2nd and 3rd generation and the Samsung Galaxy SII and SIII.  Since it works with the Galaxy, it should work with most Android phones equipped with magnetometer and compass, but the designers make no guarantees. 

The makers of the Vuuvud plan to evaluate more devices as time and funds become available.  The design team has a Kickstarter project which was supposed to raise 20,000 English pounds – they have raised 27,000 to date.  They have a working prototype, and now need to concentrate on tooling for production of the unit. 

The app that comes with the smartphone will upload your windspeed  to a website which will display your location as well as the current windspeed.  You can also see the windspeed at other locations uploaded by other Vaavud users, so you could use the device while you are on the road to find out the wind speed where you are headed.

You can set the units displayed by the device in the settings tab.  Available units are meters per second, mph, knots and Beaufort.  The device has a range of 1 to 25 meters per second, and its accuracy is on par with most digital anemometers on the market today.  The device will work with the phone in its case as well.  The device has been tested and calibrated in a wind tunnel at the University of Denmark.

According to the timeline posted on the Kickstarter page, units will begin shipping in June 2013.  By the timeline, the project is a little behind schedule, but you should see the first devices shipping during the second half of this year.  One of the biggest tasks remaining is finishing up the server side software for the web application.

The Vuuvud is a unique device.  According to the designers, no one else has used the cellphone magnetometer in this way – to measure rotation speed.  The wind sensor, except for the magnets, is made entirely of plastic, so look for the cost to be very reasonable once they begin manufacturing the device in production volumes.