Before you could check the weather on your smartphone, the barometer – which measures air pressure and forecasts short-term weather changes – was king. Although barometers don’t give you the bells and whistles of the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather app, they do give your eyeballs a break from screen time.
The co-founders of Melbourne-based start-up Typified, Oli Woods and Eliza Wegener, have created a product that combines the best of both worlds. Typified aims to incorporate technology into our lives in a less intrusive way, and their first product, The Weather Poster, is a self-refreshing weather report that’s made from “smart ink” printed on paper.
“On an app, there’s so much different information and so much noise. We wanted to take a more minimalist approach and show exactly what you need to know in a nice way that adds to the look of your home without beeping electronics,” Woods tells Broadsheet.
If the idea of “smart ink” is new to you, here’s the run-down on how it works: smart ink (or thermochromic ink) particles have been chemically constructed to alter their colour in response to changes in stimuli. As the small computer on the back of the poster acquires new data, it sends a signal that changes the temperature of the ink patches, which causes the images to become visible.
Each poster features a list of times from 8am to 8pm, along with symbols for rainy, cloudy and sunny. It takes about 10 minutes for the images on the poster to update as the ink slowly warms. As the ink relies on heat to change, it’s a good idea to keep the poster out of direct sunlight.
The poster is framed with American oak and covered by glass. While the underlying technology will remain the same, new designs and themes will feature in each 500-print run.
“You go to IKEA and there are some amazing creators who make their posters, but you just don’t get excited about them at all, because you know there’s 10 or 20-thousand others around the world,” says Woods.
The poster makes use of three standard printing colours, but a fourth smart ink colour is made of larger particles that most commercial printing methods can’t accommodate. This led Woods to screen-printing, which just happens to be his favourite printing method. He likens it to wabi sabi, a Japanese aesthetic concept centred on the acceptance of imperfection.
“You’re not mixing colours like a lot of print techniques,” explains Woods. “The vibrancy of the colour is stronger and it leaves behind surprising imperfections. We’re trying to get away from the mass production which is the law of the land with electronics.”
Typified’s Kickstarter campaign surpassed its $50,000 target, and it's currently busy producing those orders, but you can sign-up for news on future print runs at typified.io.
This article was updated on May 3, 2019.