Smart umbrellas could collect rain data

Smart umbrellas could collect rain data

Smart umbrellas could collect rain data

A Dutch researcher has developed a 'smart' umbrella equipped with sensors to gather rain data. Rolf Hut, from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, plans to turn umbrellas into rain gauges.

A rain gauge is a type of instrument used by meteorologists and hydrologists to gather and measure precipitation (eg rain) in a certain amount of time.

The prototype umbrella has a sensor that detects raindrops falling on its canvas, and uses Bluetooth to send this information via a phone to a computer. The umbrella features a piezo sensor stuck under the canvas to measure the vibrations caused by falling raindrops.

This is wired into a mobile-phone Bluetooth-earpiece, which sends its information into an app. The smartphone then links all its data over the cell network to a laptop.

Experiments in the lab and in Hut's back yard during a light shower have delivered some encouraging results. He is getting a reasonable correlation with a proper rain gauge sitting alongside.

"Eventually every umbrella would come with this technology, or at least premium umbrellas would. And if you wanted to be involved, the moment you opened the umbrella, it would start sending data to your phone which uploads it to the cloud," Hut told 'BBC News'.

"We would then have hundreds of rain gauges moving along a cityscape and that could greatly improve our ability to understand urban hydrology; it would greatly improve our ability to predict urban flooding and take measures when things are going bad," Hut added.