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This solar-powered umbrella automatically opens when the sun comes out

Summer’s almost here, so if you’re looking to deck out your deck before the heat hits, check out this umbrella from Netherlands-based design studio Toer.

Presumably in an effort to mimic its namesake, the Cumulus Parasol is designed to automatically inflate when the sun comes out, and take the shape of a puffy white cloud. It might sound fairly high-tech, but the idea is actually quite simple. The entire apparatus runs on little more than a small array of solar panels connected to a fan.

When the sun strikes the solar panels situated on top, the fan comes to life and begins to inflate the umbrella. Under direct sunlight, the cloud-shaped top inflates in around 20 seconds without any external help, and spans about two meters in diameter when fully expanded. When the sun ducks behind a cloud or dips below the horizon, the fan will stop moving and the shade will automatically begin to deflate. Of course, if you need to keep it from inflating, Cumulus can be switched off via an integrated power switch located on the pole. 

According to the designers, the parasol’s cloud shade is fairly aerodynamic, and can withstand windy weather even when fully inflated. Additionally, a silicon coating on the Cumulus’s exterior makes it waterproof, and the underlying nylon is durable enough to take a bit of a beating, even in the event that mother nature flexes her muscles and wind does pick up.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy this just yet, and we have no idea if/when it’ll ever be available for purchase. The sole working prototype was recently unveiled at Milan Design Week 2014, and probably won’t go into production for quite some time. So, for the time being, it appears that we’re still stuck with crank-up umbrellas and high-SPF sunscreens.

Find out more here.


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