Shadecraft unfurls Bloom, an Amazon Echo-compatible smart outdoor umbrella

Smart home configurations needn’t focus only on lighting and security. Shadecraft introduced the Amazon Echo-compatible Bloom smart umbrella automation controller at CES 2019 to extend your smart home outside for your relaxation and enjoyment.

Bloom isn’t ShadeCraft’s only smart outdoor product. In 2017 ShadeCraft launched the Sunflower, a solar-powered smart patio umbrella that tracks the sun’s movement and adjusts its position for maximal protection from UV waves. The Sunflower, which uses artificial intelligence (A.I.) for smart re-orienting, also has integrated security cameras, speakers, a microphone, and lights. Later this year ShadeCraft plans to launch the Blossom, an exclusive (read “expensive”) digital patio umbrella with high-end materials and premium connectivity features.

Unlike the Sunflower and Blossom, the standard order Bloom automation device does not include an umbrella — which ShadeCraft calls a parasol. However, buyers who pre-order a Bloom unit from now until February 28 will receive a free parasol when the device ships this summer. Pre-orders cost $399, discounted from the $459 list price.

The Bloom automation controller converts a standard mass market patio umbrella into a smart device. The Bloom has microphones and speakers and can be controlled by the SmartShade mobile app or by Amazon Alexa voice commands after you configure it with an Amazon Echo smart speaker.

You can open or close the umbrella with your voice, play music through Bloom’s speakers, and use the umbrella as a hub for smart outdoor living. Bloom works with up to seven-foot patio umbrellas with pole diameters from 1.25-inches to 1.5-inches. The innovative device works with both crank and pulley-style closure systems but is not recommended for umbrellas that tilt.

To install the smart controller, remove the umbrella’s crank — if that’s how your umbrella operates — and then connect the umbrella cord using Bloom’s internal winding mechanism. Bloom uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless network connectivity and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. You can charge your smartphone or tablet from the Bloom’s USB charging port, but its battery needs to be charged on an included dock that should be kept indoors. Battery size, run time, and charging times are not available, but we will cycle back to update this article when we get that information.

Once the Bloom device is installed, connected, and configured, you can set it via the ShadeCraft app to close autonomously based on wind speed and direction obtained from an internal wind sensor. Also, if you’re curious about your deck or patio’s microclimate, integrated sensors measure temperature, humidity, UV radiation, and air quality to report real-time on the smartphone app.

Deals

Amazon slashes prices on Echo devices that play Alexa’s sweetest-sounding music

Amazon slashed prices on Alexa-controlled Echo devices with the best music sound quality. All Alexa smart speakers stream music, but some sound better than others. Save on Echo Plus and the Echo Sub bundled with Echo and Echo Plus speakers.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Deals

Amazon lowers Echo Dot cost and slashes price of the Dot and Smart Plug bundle

Amazon just unleashed extraordinary price cuts on third-generation Echo Dot smart speakers. The Alexa device is back in stock following the blowout sales last holiday season. The Echo Dot is the best-selling Alexa smart speaker worldwide.
Smart Home

Amazon cuts prices on Alexa-controlled Echo and Echo Dot bundles

Amazon cut prices on Alexa and Amazon Echo device bundles. The second-generation Amazon Echo and third-generation Echo Dot are bundled in discounted deals with the Amazon Smart Plug. The Echo and Echo Dot are also bundled together.
Smart Home

Smart light switches have become more affordable: Here are the best ones

The ability to control the lighting in your home can have a big effect on your living space. To have more control over your lighting, check out the best smart light switches on the market. 
Smart Home

Update your kitchen with the best refrigerators you can buy in 2019

There are tons of factors that go into buying a fridge, from size and capacity to color. It takes lots of testing and research, but we've chosen the best refrigerators to get you started, regardless of what you're looking for.
Smart Home

Walmart serves up a rare deal on the Google Home Max at $100 off

Some deals are predictable and others are pre-announced, but today Walmart posted a rare deal: $100 off the powerful Google Home Max. Since it rarely goes on sale, waiting may not be prudent. If you want one, grab it.
Smart Home

The best smart locks to increase your home security in 2019

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Smart Home

Is your coffee maker hiding mold inside? Here's how to clean it

Are you a coffee drinker? If you brew your coffee at home and you don't clean your machine, you could be drinking mold, yeast, and other bacteria. Here's how to clean your coffee maker.
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Google Home Hub and Lenovo smart displays

Walmart slashed the prices of Google Home smart displays for two highly regarded Lenovo models and the original Google Home Hub. We can't think of a better way to improve your smart home setup and these deals can help you save up to $100.
Smart Home

Your Instant Pot can do it all. Research says it has another important function

Researchers at Dakota State University tested a variety of pressure cookers for sterilization and found that Instant Pot provides enough pressure and heat to kill off food-spoiling bacteria.
Smart Home

Need some help? Here's our handy step-by-step guide on how to Airbnb your home

Getting ready to make your home a great rental? Here's how to Airbnb your home with the right amenities, insurance, supplies, and everthing else that you need. Use this guide to get started without making beginner mistakes!
Deals

Dyson sale shatters prices on vacuums just in time for spring cleaning

Steep price cuts on Dyson vacuum cleaners for the spring cleaning season help you save money on the tools you need to do the job. We've found the best discounts on Dyson vacuums from Amazon and Walmart and put them all in one place.