AccuWeather: Hacking the Weather at Penn State
Editor's note: Today we hear from Mark Iannelli, senior technical account manager at AccuWeather, the leader in providing accurate weather data. Mark is responsible for providing technical guidance to key global partners who leverage AccuWeather’s industry-leading location and weather data APIs. Read on to learn about how Apigee helps AccuWeather expand the reach of its APIs.
AccuWeather has been in the API game now for over ten years. We have always had “enterprise APIs,” as we call them, and we worked with major companies worldwide including leading smartphone OEMs, IoT producers, and others in some of the world’s biggest industries. As a result, our APIs are already in use by many leading companies, but we wanted to do more. We made the decision to work with Google's Apigee, a leader in API management solutions, to expand our reach and engage smaller new audiences, such as small to mid-size businesses, individual developers, entrepreneurs, or students.
Building cool things—the AccuWeather ChallengeOne of the ways that we can do this is by participating in hackathons, such as the HackPSU event at Penn State University. As a sponsor of the hackathon, we created the AccuWeather Challenge to use our weather APIs, powered by Apigee, to inspire new products.
We challenged students to develop their ideas and “build cool things.” The weather impacts everything—from what you do, what you wear, what you eat, to even how you feel. So we wanted students to create a product to help improve people’s lives. The idea could help solve real-world problems, be a new IoT device, or something fun and creative!
Apigee gives us the ability to create a simple and easy-to-use API Developer Portal that students could access throughout the hackathon. When given an API key, students easily access our AccuWeather data using API documentation and best practices to begin development on their own—even with limited knowledge of APIs. It is a perfect example of the seamless and frictionless developer experience we wanted to bring to our users.
Winning designsThe winning team combined multiple technologies to create a product called “Image-to-Haiku”. The product took an image uploaded by a user and applied image recognition technology via the Google Cloud Vision API to identify objects from the image. Next, it checked the user’s current weather using the AccuWeather Locations and Current Conditions API.
Finally, the product captured the emotion and feelings from the image and current weather to create a Haiku that reflects what a person may be seeing and feeling in real time.
We've been doing hackathons for a while now, and we've seen our APIs applied in all kinds of ways. Often, we see people trying to tweak something that's already on the market like various smart-home hacks, but this was the first time we had ever seen a product like this “Image-to-Haiku.” It was their own unique design, which made it stand out in the 24-hour competition.
Another team, called “Weather or Not,” created a product that takes a bucket list of your top-ten travel destinations in the world, and combines AccuWeather’s 15-day forecast along with airline ticket prices for travel. If you wanted to take a spontaneous trip, the app tells you the best time to go, based on the weather and the ticket price, presenting your options to you in ranked order of desirability.
Hackathons like HackPSU open up new opportunities for collaboration with students. It's something we have always enjoyed doing. But now inspiring this kind of creativity with APIs has gotten much easier with the help of Apigee.