Rolf Hut from Delft University of Technology wants to turn umbrellas into devices that help scientists measure rain, BBC reports.
Apparently measuring the old fashioned way using rain gauges has become too expensive. Dr Hut’s umbrellas will be outfitted with a piezo sensor stuck under the canvas to measure vibrations caused by falling rain and with Bluetooth capabilities.
The inventor told BBC: “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.”
It strikes me that there are all kinds of statistical problems with this idea. You’d first need to know when owners use their umbrellas. Some people may stay in during heavy rain regardless of whether they own an umbrella or not, some will use umbrellas in drizzles, some will use umbrellas in the sun.
In fact for a moment I thought this was a belated April Fools’ joke, especially considering the ‘uploading rain to the clouds’ comment above, but apparently the umbrella was presented in a Pooh bear prototype form to the general assembly of the European Geosciences Union which took place last week.
Dr Hut says on his university profile web page that his colleagues have dubbed him the ‘MacGyver scientist’ for coming up with innovative ways of measuring weather using off-the-shelf technology.