It was bound to happen and it has — a smart-umbrella is upon us!
We’ve seen smart phones/fridges/ovens and even automatic dog bowls; Los Angeles-based ShadeCraft just showed their prototype solar-powered smart sun shade at this year’s CES consumer show.
ShadeCraft founder and CEO Armen Gharabegian said, “Smart products are becoming an integral part of our lives. We are addressing their inevitable evolution from the inside to the outside of the home.”
Follow the Sun
The Sunflower umbrella automatically senses the changing direction of the Sun and adjusts itself so you are always in the shade. Deceptively simple looking, it also has integrated security cameras, loudspeakers, a microphone, and lights.
Dimensions: 122 x 88 x 88 inches / 310 x 224 x 224 cm
Everything works wirelessly and powered through four slim solar panels that run along the top of the frame. Being solar powered, you can use it on your patio, by the pool or even on the beach without restrictive power cables. ShadeCraft claims the batteries have autonomy up to 72 hours depending on sunlight intensity. This may be fine for Southern California or Dubai but we are still to be convinced in dreary Britain…
The 360-degree camera allows snapshots or video of your Fun Day at the Beach or extends the security net from your home.
The loudspeakers link with your music devices by Bluetooth and if your Wi-Fi signal is strong enough, you can connect to other devices in your smart home. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri are at your disposal even when you’re outside.
Sensors on the umbrella connect to the worldwide InterWeb so it can monitor the weather: UV levels, humidity, air quality, temperature, wind, and even “obstructions that might prevent proper deployment”, although we are never told what that might be. I worry that may be that speeding meteorite that’s blocking the Sun…. 🙂
Seriously, it determines if prevailing winds are too strong for shade deployment and safely folds away for safety when a hurricane approaches.
Of course, control is via a companion App that sets up your preferences for Sunflower to do its smart thing. You also have manual control to deploy the shade as you like it but surely it should be left on ‘smart mode’.
You know the old saying: “You don’t have to bark when you buy a dog!”
Our only gripe is that only iOS phones have an App now but only a promise of the Android App in 2018 — sheesh!
They should be thinking about adding Wi Fi Hotspot capability as most homes swanky enough to have a swimming pool or beachfront are too big for regular router signals to reach.
The retail price and launch date have yet to be announced. Pundits are guesstimating around $3,000 because even non-smart high-end, aluminium patio umbrellas may cost $6,000.
On first impressions, the ShadeCraft™ Sunflower™ may be a blooming good idea.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).