The Weather Company, an IBM Business, has introduced Mesh Network Alerts to its The Weather Channel app on Android, which allows users to receive weather alerts even without cellular connection. The peer-to-peer technology, developed by IBM researchers, might turn out to be crucial, and even save lives in case of severe weather conditions, especially in developing countries where Internet and cellular connectivity can often prove to be an issue.
The new mesh technology is being made available via The Weather Channel app on Google Play and according to the company the mesh weather alerts are "coming first to India", followed by other emerging markets. The version of the app supporting this feature is already live on Google Play in 42 countries. Further, the company has reduced the download size of its Android app to just 3.2MB and the app now allows users to download weather data offline for up to 24 hours.
The mesh technology, which has earlier been seen in peer to peer messaging apps, "converts mobile devices into links" to enable them to pass on alerts to other users even if the cellular go down.
"Each smartphone becomes a node that stores the message and passes it to the next nearest device, creating a daisy chain to reach more devices and remove the need for a cellular network," the company said in a release.
Notably, the mesh networks technology used by IBM doesn't convert mobile devices into mobile hotspots to avoid excessive battery drain) but sends out alerts using devices connected to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
"The combination of the innovative Mesh Network Alerts and global reach of The Weather Channel mobile app can help deliver a new level of emergency awareness to underserved populations," IBM's Bijan Davari was quoted as saying in the release.
IBM purchased The Weather Company, which runs weather.com and The Weather Channel, in 2016.