Skip to main content

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
The underappreciated Amazon Sidewalk network is bigger than you think
Amaaon Sidewalk graphic showing connected devices and households.

Amazon Sidewalk -- a shared network that helps smart home devices stay connected -- first launched in 2021 and has been steadily growing larger over the past few years. In fact, the size of Amazon Sidewalk might surprise you, as the network’s first coverage map shows a massive blanket that Amazon says covers 90% of the U.S. population.

The recently launched interactive map makes it clear that Amazon didn’t forget about Sidewalk after releasing it two years ago. It’s a service that doesn’t often step into the spotlight, but one that’s obviously been high on the priority list over at Amazon HQ. The interactive map coincides with an announcement that Sidewalk is officially open to all developers, allowing them to integrate their products with the network and enhance the already impressive coverage map.

Read more
What to do if your Amazon Alexa app is not working
Alexa app on phone.

Amazon Alexa might be one of the most popular smart assistants, but it’s not without a few flaws. For instance, some users have experienced crashes while using the Amazon Alexa app -- and others have found the app to be entirely unresponsive when trying to control their Amazon Echo devices.

Issues like this are typically picked up on by Amazon and immediately fixed with a patch, but sometimes there’s an issue on the user’s end that needs to be remedied before things start functioning as intended. If your Amazon Alexa app is not working or responding, here are a few ways to fix it.
Check for a software update

Read more
HomePod Mini vs. Echo Dot: which is better?
Apple HomePod mini on table

The Apple HomePod Mini and Echo Dot are two of the best smart speakers of 2023. Both clock in at less than $100, offer eye-catching designs, and give you all the versatility you’d expect from top-of-the-line smart speakers. But which speaker is more deserving of a spot in your home?

Before picking up the HomePod Mini or Echo Dot, you’ll want to do a bit of research. It's hard to go wrong with either product, but one might be a slightly better fit for your household. From pricing and compatibility to sound quality and more, here’s everything you need to know about these two smart speakers.

Read more