HINT.FM‘s real-time map of wind speeds in the US is a useful tool to help us better understand the wind’s power and potential. The kinetic map was developed by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, who are exploring ways that data set in graphical form can help us think better collectively. The above image shows the powerful gusts that encircled the east coast as Hurricane Sandy made landfall last night.

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HINT.FM‘s wind map shows the potential of wind power as a long-term, reliable energy source, but the map is also a rich tool that visualizes the complex nature of air currents on earth. The next step for the design team is to create a real time wind map of the entire globe.

The map draws from hourly NOAA wind speed data, turning the information into a graphic interface. Wind velocity is displayed by the speed and direction of the tracing points and by their number and length. The result is an ever-changing stream of swirling little lines, made all the more interesting as a weather system moves across the country, quickly changing huge swaths of the pattern. The design can make the US look like a woolly mammoth or a poodle, depending on the weather conditions.

While entertaining, the map is a clean interpretation of the enormous potential of wind as a power source – something that most of us are aware of in the abstract sense, but now we can literally see it on a screen. Hover over any part of the map and latitude and longitude are given with the current wind speed on the spot. The map is also infinity zoomable, which is fun to play with but less useful as a tool, as the land is not visible. The design team is looking for live wind data from around the world to make a complete wind map of the earth.