Company devises umbrella that forecasts rain

NEW YORK Mon Jul 30, 2007 4:32pm EDT

1 of 2. An illustration shows an umbrella with a built-in radio receiver in its handle that receives weather data from the Internet and lights up when it is going to rain, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, July 30, 2007. Ambient Devices, which specializes in integrating Internet information into everyday products, has devised an umbrella with a built-in radio receiver in its handle that receives weather data for 150 U.S. locations from forecasting site Accuweather.com via a proprietary wireless network.

Credit: Reuters/Ambient Devices/Handout

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. company has developed an umbrella that does more than just keep you dry when it is raining -- it tells you when it's going to rain.

Ambient Devices, which specializes in integrating Internet information into everyday products, has devised an umbrella with a built-in radio receiver in its handle that receives weather data for 150 U.S. locations from forecasting site Accuweather.com via a proprietary wireless network.

If the forecast is for rain in the next 12 hours, the umbrella's handle lights up. Soft, intermittent pulses mean you can expect light rain while a very rapid, intense pattern signal thunderstorms ahead.

Company spokesman Mark Prince said the Ambient Umbrella showed the ability to embed the intelligence of the Internet into everyday objects.

"You can put this umbrella by the door, in an umbrella stand, and on your way out it'll be telling you if this is the day when you are going to need an umbrella," Prince told Reuters.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ambient Devices was set up in 2001 to commercialize technologies pioneered at the MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The umbrella, which is battery operated and requires activation via a customer service phone line, goes on sale this week in the United States for about $140.

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