Have you ever lost your umbrella or left it somewhere? It happens all the time, and it seems that almost everyone I know has lost an umbrella during their lifetime. Not long ago I was discussing this with a friend. She suggested that we needed to invent a GPS umbrella finder locator device. This is possible of course, I mean we do have the technology, however it might not be all that worthwhile to put such a device on an umbrella that you purchased for only $15.00 because the GPS device or sensor attached might almost cost that much you see. Still, let’s discuss this potential eventuality and see if we might come up with something?
First, I’d like to point out that umbrellas have a lot of surface area in their ribbing which could act as an antenna, so the power component might not need all that much juice. Speaking of electrical energy, what about a little solar cell, the kind that is in a small calculator, that is possible, but “oh wait, we use umbrellas during poor weather and therefore the sun most likely isn’t shining. True enough, still those little calculator solar cells seem to work without actual sunlight, with artificial light, such as lamps or the lights on a bus, train, or subway. Maybe even next to a street light.
Yes, that would keep things charged but you’d need a battery too, because most people put umbrellas in a closet and it is dark in there, thus, no more juice once the battery is gone. The other problem is that GPS triangulation need needs a minimum of three satellites, but when your umbrella is in doors, in a closet and has no juice left, it won’t be able to contact the satellite. Yes, but it may be able to contact your cell phone via an active matrix RFID chip and a pinger device. Well in that case what are we looking at in the way of sensors?
Well, the active matrix RFID chip, perhaps about $1.45 plus the battery, about the same, plus a few strips of metallic antenna material running along the frame and ribs of the umbrella – another $2 to $3 perhaps. Well, we’ve just added about six bucks to the umbrella so this probably wouldn’t work for the $15 umbrellas but for an expensive designer umbrella, it would make sense and keep you from losing it. Thus, I hope if you are an engineer of consumer products you will please consider all this and think on it.