What if your umbrella could help protect the world from air pollution while it protected you from rain? That's the goal of the Sensing Umbrella, created by Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design students Saurabh Datta, Akarsh Sanghi, and Simon Herzog (who happens to be filmmaker Werner Herzog's son), along with Giorgio Olivero of ToDo Design in Italy.
The team collaborated with Massimo Banzi, the co-founder of Arduino, to equip The Sensing Umbrella with an Arduino Yśn micro controller, which measures local carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution levels. As eye-catching as it is technologically advanced, the umbrella then visualizes this data in real-time through a sparkling LED light display on its surface. Firefly-like lights change their color and rhythm in response to local pollution levels, spreading awareness of the air quality to city dwellers. This timestamped and geolocated data gets uploaded to the Cloud--to pollution databases--to be analyzed. "With multiple umbrellas around the city, we hope to generate local maps of air pollution," Sanghi tells Co.Design. This information will be openly available on a web-based platform.