The folks from Ambient Devices came by the office yesterday to give me a look at the company's upcoming products and also let me know that their new weather-forecasting umbrella is now on sale. The Ambient Umbrella, which automatically receives weather data from Accuweather.com via Ambient's Infocast Network, has made some appearances on blogs, but it's now an official product with an official price tag of $125--though it's selling for $139 at Hammacher Schlemmer. I saw the thing in action, and while it isn't exactly super high-tech, the handle of the umbrella has a little ring of blue LED lights that start flashing when rain is forecast.
According to the press release, "The Ambient Umbrella's handle illuminates when precipitation is expected, to remind the user to carry the umbrella. The Ambient Umbrella is designed to stand by upright by the door, near a coat rack or in an umbrella stand--so it will be visible whenever the user goes outdoors. The handle's illumination behavior changes according to the forecast; for example, the handle shows soft, intermittent pulses for light rain, and very rapid, intense patterns for thunderstorms.
"The Umbrella has a high-quality, 'gust-buster' dual-canopy design and requires very simple activation via the Ambient Devices customer service phone line. The Ambient Umbrella will provide a year or more of battery life with one 'C' cell battery."
Needless to say, rain or not, this is one umbrella you might not want to take out on the town for a night of heavy drinking, which studies show correlates to a near 100 percent chance of losing your umbrella. While $125 (or $139, as the case may be) may seem like a lot for an item that I'm used to buying on a New York City street corner for $3, I can see how an affluent, weather-challenged person might think it well worth the dough.