Everything is connected these days, so why not an umbrella? Oombrella is an upscale parasol that alerts you if it's going to rain before you head outside and reminds you not to leave it behind. That's a neat idea, but is it worth a $75 (€64) bet on Kickstarter? Clement Guillot (above), the Paris-based entrepreneur behind it certainly thinks so, and was recently at the Hacking Hôtel de Ville event in Paris to find more backers. I was able to check out the device and found it to be a charming use of connected tech, though the price may dissuade many folks.
Oombrella tries hard to be worth it. It has Kevlar ribs to maximize wind resistance, and the "shiny" style canopy is a head-turner. It even has a camera screw on top to double as a GoPro selfie/boom pole. However, similar weather-resistant dumb umbrellas can be had for under $30. So most of what you're paying for is the "capsule" tucked inside Oombrella's handle, which can be bought separately for €29. It's a mini weather station with temperature, pressure, humidity and light sensors on board. Those communicate with a smartphone app via Bluetooth LE to perform a variety of functions.
The company behind Oombrella already has a weather platform called Wezzoo with some 200,000 users. The app uses that system to give you a 15 minute warning when it's about to rain so you can grab it before heading out. Another feature is "forget me not," which helps ensure you don't lose Oombrella by notifying you when you stray too far away from it.
As with other connected devices, there are tracking and social functions. You can see the stats of your last rainy trip, including where you went, how much you used it and what the weather was like. You can also spot other Oombrella users in the area using the social functions. A nice touch is a handle light that blinks when you get a call or message, in case you can't hear your phone during a torrential downpour. If you let it, Oombrella can also "collect data and share it with the community to make hyperlocal weather data more accurate," according to Wezzoo.
The idea of a stout umbrella that reminds you to bring it when it's raining and helps makes sure you don't leave it behind it is nice use of connected tech. However, the price may be a touch high for many folks. While Oombrella has sold out at the €59 ($67) early-bird pricing on Kickstarter, the €64 ($73) and up offerings are still available. The campaign is €10,000 short of its €59,000 goal, but if you're a weather nerd or want a high-end umbrella that doubles as unique connected device, there's a week left to grab one.