Lifting The Spirits
Some apps lift your spirits. Takara’s dancing flowers made the whole world smile. There was a talking parrot which repeated what you said to it in a parroty voice – people just fell about laughing at it. The singing fish, Billy Bass, was said to have beguiled Her Majesty. The singing brolly delivers the same lift to the spirits.
The umbrella which sings in the rain was made by Alice Zappe and Julia Lager of Berlin.
Zappe and Lager taped piezoelectric sensors to the underside of an umbrella and connected them to an Arduino Uno microcontroller on a circuit board containing an 8-bit tone generator which generates a musical note determined by which sensor has been hit by a raindrop. The circuit board is connected to two speakers.
The microcontroller has to be programmed to deliver a pleasingly timed series of notes rather than a mad cacophony if the umbrella is hit by a rainstorm.
Even so it can ‘get annoying after a time’ says Zappe.
Zappe and Lager made the singing brolly in a day and are now working on Version 2.
It’s an example of what Steve Jobs used to call the intersection of art and technology.
Those companies sinking under the weight of dull products – like Nokia and Sony – should look to artists, eccentrics, contrarians and mavericks to come up with stuff which warms the heart.
You can be too sensible and too grown up for success in consumer electronics.