From a Bachelor’s project to the top of the charts

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 Alain Herzog / EPFL

Alain Herzog / EPFL

Aelios is an application that was developed by Bachelor students. Two weeks after its launch, it topped download charts in Switzerland and Germany.

EPFL computer science student Andrea Coiro developed a weather application for Apple’s iPad for his Bachelor’s project. Yet another weather app? There are already a lot of them on the market, but most of them are either too tacky or contain too much information, sloppily presented.

Jilion , a start-up company,  which has already developed an Internet service called “Sublime Video” that can incorporate a universal video player into web pages (even readable on iPhone and iPad using the HTML 5 format), was looking for something exceptional, and, above all, beautiful from a design standpoint. “We were naturally interested in what’s being done in luxury watchmaking,” continues Aminian, co-founder of Jilion..

The application, baptized Aelios, opens onto a world map. In the center, a finely-detailed dial evokes both antique navigational instruments and Swiss luxury watches. The user can drag the dial around the map and zoom, putting the area of interest in the center of the dial. A circle is automatically drawn around the largest city. The local hour is displayed, both digitally and on the 24-hour clock on the dial. The length of the day and night are even shown – in this month of June, you can watch the night portion dwindle to nothing the farther north you drag the dial.

But Aelios’ selling point is of course how it shows the weather. As soon as a city is selected, symbols appear around the dial: in a single glance, you can see the local forecast for the entire day. A small tap on the dial and it displays forecasts for the upcoming week. The forecasts come from a service at the world-reputed Norwegian Meteorological Institute ( www.yr.no ). “Our application is set up to get input from several sources, however – which will soon be implemented in the US,” says Aminian.

Performance, speed and an elegant presentation: all the ingredients came together to seduce iPad users. And they didn’t need much persuading. In Switzerland and Germany, thousands of people didn’t hesitate to shell out a few coins (3.30 chf in Switzerland) to buy the app, and in a few days it was the number one iPad download in Apple’s online store. It was quickly at the top of the “weather apps” category in twelve countries, without any promotion at all save a “buzz” that got started on Twitter and an “app of the day” selection by the site Gizmodo.com. “For us it was a pleasant surprise,” admits the Jilion co-founder.


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