Understory Granted Patent for Mechanical Strain-Based Weather Sensor Technology

The proprietary technology measures weather with no moving parts, powering real-time ground-level data for insurers and other industries.

(Photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli.)

Understory, a Madison, Wisc.-based weather network and analytics company announced today that it has received a patent for its mechanical strain-based weather sensor, a key component in its weather station technology.

Alex Kubicek, CEO, Understory.

“To date, weather infrastructure has been expensive, with most costs going to ongoing maintenance and recalibration,” said Alex Kubicek, CEO, Understory. “This patent changes the game. For the first time, Understory has created a privately owned-and-operated network that collects and delivers granular weather data to clients across industries including insurance, agriculture and research organizations.”

Understory claims that, with its patented solid-state sensor, it is the only company in the world that can deploy cost-effective weather sensor technology that provides real-time data on the ground. The sensors consist of a stainless steel ball that detects wind, rain, hail and other atmospheric elements via the application of force. Data is then derived from directional information on geospatially specific weather conditions and the patent proves measurables including angle of impact, momentum and size of hail. Understory then utilizes the sensor information across an area to understand impact on property damage. Agricultural applications include measuring rainfall and evapotranspiration to provide on-the-ground insight to optimize growing operations for modern farmers.

Understory weather station.

The technology can also help insurers monitor and record weather conditions, including hail storms. In the absence of Understory’s sensors, the impact of hail damage was only estimated by using remote measurements from miles above the earth, explains Understory’s Kubicek. “While the data gave a general idea of how a storm impacted an area, the inaccuracies in hail size estimation have created the current crisis of the rising frequency and severity of hail claims,” he asserts.

Building-Specific Understanding of Roof Damage for Claims

“With Understory networks, we measure hail size and go beyond it,” Kubicek continues. “By directly measuring the momentum, angle of impact, and direction of each hail stone, we can give carriers a building-specific understanding of the damage to roof, siding, and windows before an adjuster sets foot on a property.”

Understory’s patented technology provides actionable information that radar, satellite and other remote sensing technologies fail to deliver and cannot replicate, stresses Bryan Dow, co-founder and VP of Deployments at Understory. “Access to hyper-local weather data is valuable across industries. For example, the insurance industry can understand storm-related property damage to reduce loss control, and the agriculture industry can optimize operational decisions that boost crop yields.”


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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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