Umbrella sensor sends rain data to the Cloud
Tue 6 May 2014
You could be forgiven for ignoring this story as an excuse for a jokey headline – and that’s probably the main reason why Mashable published it although the BBC went for the much more sensible: Smart umbrellas ‘could collect rain data’). But it is an interesting story perhaps as a portent of what may be to come with the internet of things.
The idea is to turn umbrellas into rain gauges. The brolly has a sensor (microphone) stuck under the canvas to measure the vibrations caused by falling raindrops. The audio feed uses Bluetooth to send it to a smartphone with a special app which calculates how much dB it is and plots it on a graph on a computer. (Note: there’s no evidence it does actually go onto the cloud, yet.) Measurments so far compare favourably with traditional guages.
The man behind Dr Rolf Hut, a hydrologist from Delft University of Technology, said: “We have radar and satellites, but we’re not measuring rain on the ground as we used to; it’s expensive to maintain the gauges.”
Technology like this could help weather forecasting become more accurate and detailed, said Thomas Bogdan, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
“Crowdsourcing data for weather forecasting is likely to be one of the exciting new advances,” Bogdan told Forbes. “Data is of huge value to us and rather than [immediately] deploying new [weather] sensor systems, we should bring in this almost free source of information about changing weather conditions.”