Ithaca’s weather is completely unpredictable – no news there.
And so is the weather in many parts of the world. Two Cornell undergrads have created an app to help solve the early-morning dilemma: What should I wear so that I’m warm, dry and comfortable all day long?
Enter Brella, the creation of Matt Barker ’19 and Austin Astorga ’19, computer science majors in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences, respectively. The app delivers a personalized daily forecast to a user’s phone so they can know what to wear and if they need to bring an umbrella, hence the name.
But more than just deliver weather information, Brella allows users to customize the app to add favorite clothing items or change their temperature preferences. For example, to Barker, who’s from New York state, Ithaca’s 50-degree cloudy days are warm enough for a T-shirt, while Astorga, who’s from California, would call those days chilly. Each morning, the app will suggest what to wear and bring based on the daily forecast and their preferences.
It also delivers a whimsical greeting with each day’s notification such as, “Good morning, Matt! There’s no storm in the forecast, but you’ll bring the thunder wearing your T-shirt and shorts.”
Because weather accuracy is of the utmost importance, Brella uses Dark Sky, which offers up-to-the-minute rain information. Brella’s iOS app has been downloaded more than 6,000 times, with about 500 active monthly users Barker said. It’s also now available on Amazon Alexa and the pair are developing an application for Android.
Beyond Ithaca, the app has been downloaded in more than 70 countries. The students regularly get comments and feedback from users hailing from Egypt to Australia.
Brella won the Ron G. Kermisch Cornell Engineering Innovation Award in February for “implementation of a fully demonstrated prototype” and the company is a finalist for Cornell’s Student Business of the Year Award from Entrepreneurship at Cornell. Winners of the award will be announced April 20.
While Astorga and Barker have internships lined up for the summer in Seattle and New York, they also plan to continue working on Brella.
“This just started as a project for us to solve our own problem of knowing what to wear,” Astorga said. “But after seeing the huge response to Brella’s personalized forecasts, we want to be one of the top weather apps on the market.”
Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.