Nimbus is an interactive umbrella stand that wirelessly gets weather forecast from Internet and uses light effects to notify user to take umbrella. It is design and developed on the class Product Design at Penn.
Nimbus first serves as a fully functional umbrella stand. The inner/outer separated structure isolates all electrical components from the wet area of inner case. The inner case can be easily taken off and put into water for cleaning. The outer case lifts the inner case above ground, so the air can flow in through the holes on it to dry the umbrella more quickly. LED strips is mounted on the outer shell and facing, inside. The inner shell reflects lights from LEDs to make nicer blends of colors.
Nimbus uses different light colors and motions to interpret weather forecasts pulled via Wi-Fi. Only when IR sensor detects user approaching, RGB LEDs mounted between the outer case and inner case are powered to change color and brightness. Otherwise the umbrella stand will remain standby to avoid interruption and energy consumption.
The first prototype was made with water bottle, disposable cups and papers to introduce the concept to the audiences. We received a lot of positive comment on the basic idea. The with the help of laser-cutting machine, we built several more cardboard prototypes to optimize the size and use prints to demonstrate light design. The final prototype was made with dozens of laser-cut cardboard pieces. We programed Arduino UNO to communicate with Internet trough Wi-Fi module and routers. Each RGB LED on the strips could be controlled individually by address map. IR sensors was mounted on the side of the stand detecting approaching user. We also developed a simple Web interface using JS and PHP to configure the stand wirelessly, or put it into party mode!