The Comfable app doesn't just tell you the weather, it tells you how you feel
In the thermostat age, people have forgotten that there is more to comfort than just temperature; we just seal the windows and turn the dial. I have noted before that there are many other factors that determine how warm, cool, comfortable or uncomfortable you are, and that there is a comfort zone, a combination of temperature, humidity and air movement.
It's why I keep showing this wonderful 1963 drawing by Victor Olgyay from Designing with Climate; it shows the comfort zone (I call it the comfort kidney). I wrote in The Comfort Zone vs Comfort Point:
If one is going to use natural ventilation, opening windows, passive solar and other green technologies, we have to stop aiming for the point and start thinking of the zone. It takes a lot of energy to hit that point, and it isn't necessary for human comfort.
It's why I have never been really excited about the Nest thermostat; it doesn't understand anything but temperature (and now humidity) but not whether the window is open, whether you are wearing a sweater. And it is why I was so excited to read about a new app, comfable, on Robert Bean's Journal of Indoor Environmental Quality.
Dr. Neda Ghazizadeh & Dr. Alireza Monam explain that there are actually six factors that affect how you actually feel, rather than just what the temperature is. Weather matters, but so do personal parameters like age, fitness, weight and sex; type of activity you are doing, what you are wearing, and personal feelings.
The app, based on their Outdoor thermal comfort model, asks about these parameters, mashes it current and future weather information, and tells you how you really feel. Use it for a while and the app will get to know you and your closet, and it will tell you what to wear for the particular weather to be most comfortable.
A common question for many people is “what should I wear today?”. The wear plugin helps determine what you should wear based on “P-Feels Like”, weather Forecast, activity, personal feeling, favorite color and style, gender, age and physical makeup. This plugin not only suggests ideal clothes but also recommends a pre-entered set from your closet. In fact, you have a virtual closet that is smart.
This is the kind of data that a really smart thermostat wants to know. Temperature is just one datapoint and it doesn't define comfort, doesn't take into account our personal preferences or what we are wearing. They all matter.
Alas, the app doesn't exist yet; they are raising money on Indiegogo and at the time of this writing have a dismal $539 (including $10 I just contributed) with a $9,000 goal expiring on July 14. That's a real shame; judging by their OTC model, they clearly know the science. Contribute here.