A socially minded Hong Kong startup has come up with the fabulous idea of turning the humble umbrella into a tool for meeting new people, at the same time saving them from a soaking.
‘Umbrella Here,’ at its simplest, is a light that you plop on the top of your umbrella when it starts raining. As with a taxi, the light signals to others that you’re willing to ‘take a passenger,’ meaning anyone caught in a downpour without rain protection can join you to keep dry.
But there’s more to it than that. The four graduate students behind the idea have also created an app to help you stay in touch with those you meet under your umbrella – should you want to, of course. All you do is log in, enter the time and place you met, add the person as a friend, and continue the conversation.
Of course, if your passenger was annoying, obnoxious, or simply walked too darn fast, there’s no pressure to maintain contact through the site, though there’s a chance they might suddenly turn up when the next rainstorm hits.
The app also lets you keep track of how many people you help and the routes you’ve taken, and even sends you a reminder telling you not to forget your umbrella if you’re out in a restaurant or bar.
At home, the Umbrella Here light turns into a little weather gadget, glowing red when it’s hot outside and blue when it’s cold. When it’s raining in the vicinity, it blinks so you know to grab your umbrella (and the light!) if you’re heading out.
Umbrella Here is currently a Kickstarter project, and was recently selected as a staff favorite by the crowdfunding site. However, with 15 days to go, it’s still to hit its $15,000 target.
If the startup does manage to secure funding, it plans to start shipping Umbrella Here in January, 2015, though the asking price isn’t currently known.
From what we’ve seen, Umbrella Here is an easy way to help others on a rainy day, and could be a boon for lonely folk hoping for diabolical weather so they can wander the streets with their glowing light in the hope of striking up a conversation with a stranger, potentially leading to a new friendship.
Of course, for the system to work, people on the street need to know what the light means, otherwise they’d just think it’s a weird umbrella design that serves no obvious purpose.
Would you stick one on your umbrella?