Jan 31, 2011
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Umbrella bumpers beware!

An umbrella is an object that shield us from the elements, predominantly rain and sometimes sun, and certainly from each other. The structure and design that are so effective for keeping us dry make it difficult to maneuver around other umbrella users, especially on crowded urban sidewalks.

We have all been in this situation, either as perpetrators or victims: it starts to rain and umbrella-users come out in full force, colliding into other users and nonusers. By combining an umbrella with another technology that can help us determine proximity of other people, this remixed object will allow users to know when another person or stationary object is too close for comfort.


This umbrella would detect when other people and their umbrellas are approaching to alert the user to move aside. This object is intended for an urban setting.


The materials would consist of an umbrella and embedded LEDs. The user activates the power by simply opening the umbrella. The LEDs for both prototypes 1 and 2 would be visible to the user and the approaching people, but its primary purpose is to alert the user. The proximity sensor is placed at five equidistant points on the outer rim of the umbrella. The battery would be place in the handle to avoid any problematic mechanics with the closing and opening of the umbrella.


It starts to rain;
user opens her/his umbrella;
rods extend and are no longer in contact with the base rod;
power is turned on;
LEDs emit green light;
user walks down the sidewalk;
person approaches;
proximity sensor detects the person at 6 feet away;
LEDs turn from green to yellow;
person comes closer;
proximity sensor detects the person at 3 feet away;
LEDs turn from yellow to red;
user steps to the side;
user avoids collision.

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