Spatialized Umbrella v01

This is my first prototype of the Spatialized Umbrella.

The Spatialized Umbrella project offers an entirely new dimension to walking in the rain. Using light and sound spatialization this umbrella creates an immersive, mobile, and highly personal multi‐sensory environment.  Range sensing technology helps the Spatialized Umbrella react to your movement through a space.

5 speakers and LEDs are mounted inside of the umbrella, around the users’ head, allowing for sound and light spatialization.  The ‘raindrop’ samples play in a loop, each speaker playing their own unique raindrop. The LEDs light up the speaker playing at that moment. The tempo of the loop is controlled by a long-range Sharp Infrared range finder.  The closer an object is to you, the faster the loop plays. If an object is close enough and a threshold is reached, a lightning sequence is triggered. Best part: COMPLETELY SAFE FOR USE IN THE RAIN.

This video is actually an early version of the code, and I apologize for not using a microphone INSIDE the umbrella (it’s hard to hear the ‘raindrop’ sounds). New video soon.

The most time consuming part of the project was in soldering the PCB i used (i wanted it to be small to fit at the top, so the entire arduino did not make sense). I designed my own “mapduino” circuit and used an IC socket for the ATMega168 chip to sit in on the PCB. This way i can just pop the chip out and replace it with another I have reprogrammed on an Arduino. Rigging the umbrella also took a little while.

***ALL SOUND IS MADE USING ONLY AN ARDUINO AND 8OHM SPEAKERS:: lookup tables store values for waveshaping, which is output directly from Digital Pins from the ATmega chip. See the current version of the code, which can be found HERE.

still to do: linearize the IR data so that there is a more even rate of change in the tempo. When I began, I also had the thought to use an accelerometer, to measure the direction of movement. BUT, I have been successful tonight in reading data from a digital compass sensor, which can give me degrees of rotation — like say if the user spins the umbrella, i could have the sound/light spin around the users head in that direction, at that speed. This is much more interesting data than an accelerometer, in my opinion.

>> UPDATE :: Featured on and and !!

14 thoughts on “Spatialized Umbrella v01

  1. This reminds me of a scene from the movie Brain Candy (Kids in the Hall [1996])…

    Scientist: I’ve invented a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends.
    Don: Uh, right, and what’s positive about that?
    Scientist: Well, it’s a pill that gives worms to ex-girlfriends.
    Don: Couldn’t it also give worms to ex-boyfriends?
    Scientist: This is a drug… for the world… to give worms to ex-girlfriends.
    Don: Well, great. Thanks for stopping by.
    Scientist: You just don’t get it here! Huhoooo

  2. An idea that could be cool. On an umbrella, put sensor to detect vibrations on the surface of the umbrella. The drops of rain will make the surface vibrating, you could generate a series of sounds. When the rain is falling on the umbrella, more or less randomly, this should produce a random melody.

    Another possibility would be to play a music depending on the strength of the rain hitting the umbrella. You could select 5 songs and the song will be automatically choose depending on the type of rain.

  3. Karl, this is a great idea! I’ve only used one or two types of vibration sensors before, and they haven’t ever been too sensitive or precise, but I like where you are headed. Essentially mapping out the canvas of the umbrella, and letting the raindrops color it. I guess figuring out how to effectively separate each sensor from one another, so that only one gets triggered per drop. Also, the plastic of the umbrella would have to be thin enough to ‘vibrate’ at any particular spot… although who knows, maybe this one would do the trick… i’ll revisit this idea soon…

    thanks for the post!

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