Apple may think that future of iPod control lies in a virtual, on-screen scroll wheel
, but we know better. As it turns out, the best way to change tracks, adjust the volume, etc. is by attaching your DAP to an...umbrella? Well, it may not actually be the perfect input method (or even in the top 10), but the homemade iBrella (in white, of course) certainly takes Apple's suggestion to "think different" to a whole new level. The makers of this strange device crammed a two-axis accelerometer, Hall-effect sensors, and a gyroscope into the handle of a standard umbrella, and using a PIC microcontroller programmed with the so-called iPod Mini Protocol, were able to translate the sensors' motions into commands that the 'Pod can understand. So, opening and closing the iBrella will play / pause the current track, while rotating the handle could either tweak the volume or change songs, depending on what mode it's in (mode changes are achieved by stabbing the umbrella skyward). There are obviously a thousand reasons why this device is completely impractical -- especially if you happen to be using it in the rain -- but we prefer to concentrate on the innovative design rather than the lack of real-world applications; after all, it's the seemingly useless projects
that often inspire folks to go out and build stuff that really will
make a difference.