When it rains, it pours… well, at least here in California. As we brace for high winds and flash floods, we figured what better time to compile a list of some of the most innovative umbrellas to keep us dry. At the heart of Silicon Valley, it would only make sense that they’d be high-tech as well, right? While the invention of the umbrella dates back well over 3,000 years ago, it would appear that not a whole lot has changed in its basic design. That was until now…
The “Invisible” Umbrella
Instead of those awkward metal poles and canopies, a team of Chinese designers is relying on a “force field” of air to keep you nice and dry. The Air Umbrella recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, garnering over $102,000.
The “Forecasting” Umbrella
What if your umbrella had a handle that would illuminate when snow or rain was in the forecast? Never forget to grab it on your way out the door again thanks to the Ambient Forecasting Umbrella! The enchanted accessory works by tuning in to AccuWeather.com to predict the weather in your area, and if there happens to be 100% chance of precipitation, it will pulse nearly 100 times.
The “Light Sabering” Umbrella
Star Wars fans, does it get any better than this?
The “Traceable Umbrella
High-end umbrella maker Blunt recently teamed up with Bluetooth-tracker specialists Tile to create what the company calls, the first smart umbrella. Thanks to what may very well be the first location-aware ‘brella, if lost, all you need to do whip out your iPhone and launch the Tile app to track it down. As you close in on its whereabouts, the umbrella will play a tune so you can find with both your eyes and ears!
The “Web Browsing” Umbrella
What if you could snap a pic, capture a video, or browse the Internet using just your umbrella? That’s what Makers Sho Hashimoto, Shingo Iwata, and Takashi Matsumoto aspired to bring to reality with the Pileus. Described by its creators as a connected umbrella to make “walking on rainy days fun,” the accessory is equipped with a large screen, a built-in camera, a motion sensor, GPS and a digital compass.
The “Sensing” Umbrella
What if your umbrella could help protect the world from air pollution while it protected you from rain? Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design students Saurabh Datta, Akarsh Sanghi, and Simon Herzog recently debuted an umbrella capable of just that. Appropriately dubbed “Sensing Umbrella,” the ATmega32U4 based device has the ability to collect air pollution data during a nice stroll through the park or en route to work.
The “Gauging” Umbrella
Dutch researcher Rolf Hut has developed a way to transform ordinary umbrellas into mobile weather-monitoring stations using the sound of raindrops. By using an fitting an umbrella with an acoustic rain gauge, the prototype detects droplets falling on its canopy, and uses Bluetooth to relay this information via its smartphone app. As people walk around with umbrellas throughout a city during a storm, each app can transmit data to the “cloud” (pun intended) which meteorologists could use to devise more precise predictions.
The “Sharing” Umbrella
Have you ever been caught running your weekend errands as a sudden April shower crops up? Without warning, your clothes, new purchases and hair become soaked. Lucky for you, the Umbrella Here has arrived to solve all of these problems! The creators of the project — who recently completed a Kickstarter campaign — are looking to “bring strangers together” on these rainy days with a smart light that affixes to the top of your umbrella.
The “Glowing” FLORAbrella
The “Enlightening” Umbrella
Once upon a time, there were two who girls sincerely enjoyed strolls in the rain with their umbrellas. So much so that they decided the enjoyment of this experience could be maximized by creating their own pressure-activated web of LEDs to install under their umbrella. With the help of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), some 4051 multiplexers, wires and soldering, the idea was brought to