May 3, 2014

Measuring rain with smart umbrella invented by Rolf ‘MacGyver’ Hut

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 11:32 am

umbrella-55laney69Rolf 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.

(Link: Bright, Photo: 55Laney69, some rights reserved)

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November 23, 2013

It almost never rains in the Netherlands

Filed under: Bicycles,Nature by Branko Collin @ 10:33 pm

At (it almost never rains dot nl) avid cyclist Gerard Poels from Grave near Nijmegen keeps track of how many of his bicycle commutes get rained on.

In the past five years it rained during an average of 9.4% of Poels’ rides, each of which took 40 minutes each way. Poels counts every little shower even if it rains for just a few minutes. He claims it happens only 4 or 5 times each year that it rains during the entire ride. During those five years Poels rode his bike to and from work 1,482 times.

Poels set up his site to counter the excuse “I am not going to take the bike to work because it always rains [in the Netherlands]”. points out that Peter Siegmund of the Dutch meteorological office (KNMI) calculated the probability that you will get wet if you stay outdoors (PDF). If you stay outdoors for an hour in the Netherlands, there is a 12% chance that you will get rained on. If you stay out for four hours, that probability increases to about 25%, and you will have to stay out for at least a fortnight to be absolutely sure to get wet. Siegmund adds that fans of camping are most likely to stay dry in June. Even then the probability of rain during a single week is still 91%.

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August 28, 2011

Weather prediction for the next ten years—rain, rain, rain

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:09 pm

It’s been raining a lot here this summer—I thought I’d share the pain (and the view from my window) a bit.

Meanwhile, Noordhoff publishers and the Dutch weather office, KNMI, presented a climate atlas last week. Some interesting tidbits:

* Worldwide the temperature has risen 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years, in the Netherlands that was 1.4.

* The temperature in Amsterdam averages 11 degrees Celsius over the past thirty years, which is the same average as Lyon (in the South of France) had thirty years ago.

* The rainiest places in the country are the Veluwe (the nature reserve in the middle of the country) and the North of Amsterdam.

* The skies released 850 litres water per square metre on average; 100 years ago that average was 700 litres.

Since we’re in the middle of a period of global warming, it is expected that these trends will continue (though KNMI is hedging its bets).

Update August 31, 2011: Dutch News: It’s official: this is the wettest summer since 1906.

(Links:, Vereniging voor Weerkunde en Klimatologie)

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January 2, 2011

Bicycle rain fashion from the Netherlands

Filed under: Bicycles,Fashion by Branko Collin @ 12:20 pm

Here’s an odd duck: a fashion brand starting up in Amsterdam that caters to the rained upon cyclist. On their website Madame de Pé announces that they will open up for business in February, but their Facebook page provides a glimpse of what can be expected.

Link: Dutch in Dublin. Photos: Facebook / Madame de Pé.

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October 9, 2009

Rain barrel with built-in watering can

Filed under: Design by Branko Collin @ 11:40 am

Like the top glass in a pyramid of champagne glasses, the watering can at the top of Bas van der Veer’s A Drop of Water is always filled the first, so that a gardener has ready access to rain water for their plants.

Excess water simply flows into the barrel, from where it can be released by a simple tap.

The 24-year-old, 2009 Design Academy Eindhoven graduate will display this project and his Bioplastic Planter at the Dutch Design Week, which starts October 17. According to (Dutch), the young inventor has not yet approached companies to take his designs into production, but he hopes to get a lot of attention during the exhibition where he will be all week.

(Source photo: Bas van der Veer.)

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July 17, 2008

Climate change twice as fast in the Netherlands

Filed under: General,Science by Orangemaster @ 8:20 am

The climate change in the Netherlands is happening twice as fast as compared to the rest of the world, according to television’s RTL Nieuws on Wednesday based on two yet to be published studies. Cees Molenaars of the KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute) confirmed the news. “One of the parts of the report regards the warming up of all of Western Europe, which is twice as fast as elsewehere”, says Molenaars. He also says that there is no reason to panic on the short term. However, winters will be milder and there will be more precipitation.

More precipitation in the Netherlands is usually a euphemism for more rain and hail rather than snow. Ick.


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