IRIS Focus is just the beginning

Vaisala IRIS Focus Weather Radar Software
Published: Oct 16, 2015
Weather & Environment

What a great time we have had since starting on the modernization project of Vaisala’s weather radar software. There is excitement and buzz at Vaisala to be releasing IRIS Focus, the first in a series of new software replacing older technologies in our weather radar offering. IRIS Focus is a display system for weather radars giving meteorologists and aviation forecasters easy-to-use tools to analyze current atmospheric conditions.

The original IRIS software was conceived by Sigmet Inc., and was developed in the 1980’s by a group of scientists from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was created by scientists, for scientists. I remember my first days as a meteorologist at Kwajalein Atoll using dual-polarization radar with the powerful software suite and I was like a kid in a candy store. IRIS was extremely stable and did everything I needed but, after three years of really attempting to learn IRIS by using it in an operational forecasting environment, reading over 1,200 pages of product manuals, and helping support the Sigmet install base as a support engineer I realized that there could be exponentially even more ways to use IRIS. With a complex system like IRIS, many nuisances and usability issues can ultimately lead to initial frustration for first-time users, growing pains for agencies with increased costs in training and support, and a delay in the use of the full power of the software.

In recognition of the need to have powerful but yet easy-to-use analysis tools Vaisala’s modernization of IRIS was centered on four main goals:

  • Improve usability to provide the same type of experience our customers have come to expect from any number of the modern applications you use on a daily basis.
  • Reduce complexity so the interface is simple and easy to understand.
  • Speed up development time now and in the future by using common third-party open source modules, such as geographic information systems.
  • Test and audit IRIS Focus using the latest information security standards via the use of third-party security firms.

With the IRIS Focus development we have achieved these goals, plus one more given to the development team by Erkki Jarvinen, Head of Vaisala’s Meteorological Business Unit ― to create a ‘WOW’ factor. Based on first feedback from various people, I feel we have created just that.

I invite you to try the new IRIS Focus with real-time access to Vaisala’s Kerava weather radar located in Finland by going to
Don’t worry if there isn’t any exciting weather, we’ve created some nice sample data sets for other parts of the world to use.

After you try IRIS Focus, leave us some feedback and ask questions in our new ‘Ask the Expert’ section. Finally, check back with us as we write about the new features in IRIS Focus and how they may be used. Also we will be providing you a sneak-peak of new functionality before it is released, and perhaps even reveal our roadmap to what we plan on doing next!

Jason Selzler, Product Manager, Vaisala Inc.

Add new comment