Boffins unfurl weather-predicting umbrella

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Boffins unfurl weather-predicting umbrella

Boffins at the MIT Media Lab have developed an umbrella that alerts users when rain is expected.

Unveiled by Ambient Devices, a private company founded in 2001 to commercialise patent-pending technologies pioneered by MIT, the device automatically receives weather data from Accuweather.com.

If precipitation is expected within the next 12 hours, the umbrella's handle illuminates to remind users to take the brolly with them when they go outside.

The umbrella gets its data directly via Ambient's Infocast network, a narrowband broadcast network that does not require any form of PC connectivity. The network reaches over 90 per cent of US households, with good in-building penetration in areas inaccessible to other wireless technologies.

"The Ambient Umbrella perfectly demonstrates Ambient's ability to embed the intelligence of the internet in everyday objects," said Nicholas Negroponte, member of Ambient Devices' board of directors.

The handle's illumination behaviour changes according to the forecast. For example, the handle shows soft, intermittent pulses for light rain, and very rapid, intense patterns for thunderstorms.

The brolly will provide a year or more of battery life with one 'C' cell battery, Ambient said. The Ambient Forecasting Umbrella has a retail price of US$125 and is available immediately through national retailers.
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