The RainMachine system uses the National Digital Forecast Database to gauge evapotranspiration rate, or the movement of water into the atmosphere from soil and vegetation
The RainMachine system uses the National Digital Forecast Database to gauge evapotranspiration rate, or the movement of water into the atmosphere from soil and vegetation
The RainMachine system uses the National Digital Forecast Database to gauge evapotranspiration rate, or the movement of water into the atmosphere from soil and vegetation

In the US, RainMachine, a company that manufacturers Wi-Fi enabled home irrigation systems, uses weather data to update a household’s watering schedule, helping consumers ensure that water is used more efficiently.

How it works: The Wi-Fi-enabled RainMachine system uses the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which the RainMachine monitor accesses, through a homeowner's Wi-Fi router.

The system downloads the latest weather data every six hours using the homeowner’s GPS coordinates.

It then updates every zone's watering schedule, based on both the water needs of the plants within each zone and the seven-day forecast regarding temperature, wind, moisture and rainfall levels.

RainMachine’s founding companies, Sun Microsystems and Nortel Networks, joined forces to develop the company with the aim of creating a product that could leverage the Internet of Things, to help consumers save energy and natural resources.

The company’s chief technology officer, Andrei Bulucea said: "We chose to work with water ... mainly because we noticed that so much city water was being wasted by legacy home irrigation controllers, including the ones that were running our homes."

Consumer control

Homeowners  are able to use the RainMachine application to view their water schedule and make amendments.

The app allows users to reconfigure the watering zones or updating the schedule to watering on certain days of the week. This is particularly an area of concern in mid-west United States.

Bulucea said that eventually homeowners will be able to link their RainMachine controllers to smart water meters. This would allow homeowners to set alerts and be notified when their monthly water bill is close to being reached, as well as alert them to leakages in their irrigation systems.

According to the IoT Journal, “weather forecasting is emerging as a significant player in Internet of Things systems”.

A partnership between IBM and Weather Services International (WSI) will see the companies’ develop tools for anticipating major weather events and then leveraging the Internet of Things and data analytics, to reduce the estimated US$500 billion in weather-related losses that business sector suffers every year.