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An Umbrella That Knows When it's Needed

Boot Camp feature for Friday, September 14, 2007

An umbrella that tells you when it's going to rain. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. A company called Ambient Devices, a spin-off of the MIT Media Lab… has been selling a variety of gadgets for about five years….that are designed to provide information at a glance. The Ambient Orb, for instance, can be set to glow different colors depending on weather conditions, the movement of the stock market or how heavy the traffic is in your area. The latest gadget…is the Ambient Umbrella. VP Mark Prince…

"It's got a wireless chipset embedded in the handle which allows anyone who buys one of these umbrellas to either go online to our Web site or call our toll free support number, provide a location that you'd like to track. So if you live in New York, you probably want to know the New York forecast. There are 150 different locations in the nation that you can specify for your umbrella to track. And then any time there's precipitation expected in the Accu-weather forecast, your umbrella's going to let you know that either there's some light rain expected or a downpour expected, by behaving in different ways in how the handle illuminates.

The ring of led lights is at the base of the handle. The umbrella seems to be sturdy and well made. But potential buyers may have their spirits dampened by the price….about a hundred twenty five dollars. Up next from Ambient…an LCD scoreboard that keeps track of NFL games and standings. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.