The Weather Channel Continues Its Embrace Of Mixed Reality Technology

TWC releases another educational MR demonstration ahead of Storm Harper.

When The Weather Channel debuted its IMR technology back in June of 2018, the organization introduced the industry to a brand new form of educational broadcasting.

Working with mixed reality specialists, The Future Group, TWC immersed its on-air reporters into an intense MR simulation highlighting the devastating effects of a 200 mph tornado. The video begins like any other conventional presentation with our host explaining the the science behind its destructive power in front of a 2D monitor; that is until a photorealistic utility pole comes crashing into the actual studio, leaving active power lines still surging with electricity tangled at the foot of the presenter. Within minutes the entire studio is reduced to rubble – an accurate representation of the potential aftermath of such dangerous weather conditions.

This was just one example in which The Weather Channel has employed the use of immersive technology, specifically “Mixed Reality,” to better show how ruthless Mother Nature can be. Since its initial launch in June, TWC’s IMR technology has been used in several mixed reality presentations, highlighting everything from torrential flooding caused by a category 2 hurricane, to an out-of-control wildfire capable of destroying a football field worth of forest every second.

Now, with Winter Storm Harper expected to hit everywhere from California to Maine this weekend, The Weather Channel is once again employing its next-generation broadcasting to help viewers understand the fundamental basics of a powerful ice storm and the hazards it could be bringing with it throughout the following couple of days.

Lead by on-air Weather Channel personality and meteorologist Jim Cantore, our enthusiastic host begins 6,500 feet above the ground, identifying thunder snow patterns and melting snow before descending to street level; it’s here we start seeing more noticeable effects of the inclement weather. As Cantore stands at the center of the beast, roads, benches, and street signs begin to freeze as thick layers of ice envelop his surroundings.

“Just a tenth of an inch makes road and sidewalks extremely slippery,” states Cantore as a wooden bench disappears behind a sheet of ice. “A quarter of an inch can break branches and cause spotty power outages. And once you’re over a half inch, serious problems ensue.” It’s a this point Cantore is nearly hit by an enormous icecicle which shatters into thousands of dangerous shards upon hitting the ground. “These ice missles can reach speeds of 90 mph and land with a 1,000 lbs of force.”

What follows is a series of dangerous scenarios ranging from a large tree buckling from the weight of the ice onto active power lines, to an out-of-control bus barreling through an open street before crashing just in front of our lucky host.

Image Credit: The Weather Channel

In our modern society, one that is constantly expanding with new technologies and the conveniences they bring with it, it’s hard for some to accept that many elements of our existence are far outside our control. The Weather Channel’s IMR-powered presentations offer us the opportunity to truly grasp the potential dangers brought on by hazardous weather conditions, explaining the facts with visual simulations, rather than stats and figures.

One can only hope other news organizations see the benefits mixed reality technology could provide to the journalism industry and begin enhancing their own programming.

About the Scout

Zane Parker

Zane Parker is a web producer, video editor and contributing writer covering the intersection of motion capture, real-time animation, and immersive technology.

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