Artificial intelligence is coming to your patio thanks to the launch of the Sunflower, a solar powered smart patio umbrella that automatically adjusts itself to keep you in the shade. The umbrella is the first product from Los Angeles-based smart outdoor living manufacturer ShadeCraft.
While its primary purpose is to keep you in the shade, the Sunflower also includes integrated security cameras, speakers, a microphone, and lights. These all operate wirelessly and are powered through four slim solar panels that run along the top of the frame of the umbrella itself. There should be plenty of power for the umbrella to operate: ShadeCraft says the Sunflower’s batteries can hold up to 72 hours of operating charge — good enough to get you through even the cloudiest of days.
The speakers connect to your music devices via Bluetooth, while Wi-Fi allows you to connect to other devices in your smart home — even to use virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri while you’re outside. When it’s no longer needed, the umbrella retracts itself immediately — or when weather conditions might warrant the same.
All those features are possible through the Internet of Things smarts built into the Sunflower, which measures a variety of variables through sensors on the umbrella, including those for UV levels, humidity, air quality, temperature, wind, and even obstructions that might prevent proper deployment.
“Smart products are becoming an integral part of our lives,” founder and CEO Armen Gharabegian said. “We are addressing their inevitable evolution from the inside to the outside of the home.”
A companion app will allow for easy access and setup of the Sunflower’s features, along with manual control if the user wishes to move and deploy the shade on their own. It even has a remote feature to operate the Sunflower. While the app is initially iOS only, an Android app is expected to be released in 2018.
At this point, only a prototype of the final design is available and it is being shown off to attendees at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A final retail price was not announced.