You'd think having weather apps on our phones would mean we'd always be prepared, but we still forget to check them. The Raincheck umbrella stand removes the need to check the weather. It shows users whether they need to take a brolly out with them as they leave the house.
It was only last week that we featured UmbraCity, which is also trying to solve the problem of being caught out by rain showers with its automated umbrella rental kiosks. Whereas UmbraCity's kiosks are based on the premise that users have been caught away from home in need of an umbrella, however, the Raincheck aims to eliminate that as a possibility in the first place.
Designer Nick Jonas conceived of the idea as a result of living in a sixth-floor Manhattan apartment. In the event of forgetting to take an umbrella with him when it was raining, he would have to make the inconvenient trip back upstairs when he got to the ground floor and realized his mistake. He also realized that, although our phones have become our main conduit for receiving information, they are not always best placed.
"It's important we disseminate information to parts of our life where they are best fit to be consumed," explains Jonas. "And with weather, it should be in your closet, or where you take your umbrella out for the day."
The Raincheck itself is a fairly traditional-looking, 6 x 6 x 30-in (15 x 15 x 76-cm) umbrella stand made from black walnut. It can apparently fit five umbrellas inside, as well as accommodate some hung on the outside. The stand has a row of eight LED lights down one side, which relate to the upcoming eight hours of weather and will also reflect the time of day by dimming slightly after sunset.
If a light is blinking blue, then the forecast is for rain that hour, if it's is blinking white, then the forecast is for snow and if it's a solid blue, then the forecast is clear. Extreme weather, such as a tornado or hurricane, is indicated by way of a flashing red light.
The Raincheck is a powered by a Particle Photon processor unit that connects to a user's home Wi-Fi network. An accompanying Android or iOS app is used to connect the device to the preferred network, after which it is ready to use.
The Raincheck requests the weather forecast every 15 minutes, using forecast.io as the data source, and updates the lighting output accordingly. Although it is said to consume a relatively small amount of power, it is mains-powered for simplicity and because it isn't designed to be moved around a great deal.
A Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of the Raincheck has been launched. At the time of writing, individuals who pledge from US$249 can receive one of the umbrella stands, assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and roll-out. Shipping is expected from May next year.
The video below is the Kickstarter pitch for the Raincheck.