A smart umbrella-share with the ability to offer cover for others and detect lost umbrellas.

Created: April 10th, 2018


Ever find yourself without an umbrella in the middle of a downpour? You aren’t alone. A number of people aren’t prepared for the unpredictable weather of Pittsburgh. Even though there have been several initiatives to create the communal umbrellas, many of them failed due to the large number of lost or returned umbrellas.

Brello is a umbrella sharing service with stations at the entrance of buildings. A user can subscribe to the model and have the flexibility to take out or return an umbrella at multiple spots depending on their convenience.

There are two ways the umbrellas connects individuals and creates a sense of community:

  1. Users can also light up their umbrellas as a sign that they are willing to share their umbrella with others who may not have one.

  2. When users with Brellos approach each other, the person that presses the button on umbrella first will get a point in his/her app. Through gamification, the Brello is transitioned into a media to connect the users in a fun way.

In the case an umbrella is lost, the app can trigger the beacons of all close umbrellas to identify missing umbrellas. 

A FOB is used to unlock the umbrella. This can also be accomplished with an optional mobile app.


Bills of Materials

  • Photon (4)
  • Umbrella (2)
  • MFRC-522 RFID Scanners (2)
  • RG LEDs (3)
  • Breadboard Friendly RGB Neopixel LEDs (24)
  • Servo Motor
  • Push Button
  • Acrylic
  • Plywood
  • Photon Battery Shield
  • Mini Breadboard
  • Jumper Wires


Having gone through a number of ideas, we are excited we decided to pursue this. One of our biggest obstacle was figuring out how to integrate a third particle, which we wanted as a social interaction. It worked out at the end, however still has a lot of room for innovation. We also realized once we changed the location of the leds of the umbrellas they made the umbrellas thicker and so it was hard to close. This unfortunately led to the servo not being able to close when the umbrella  was in the slot. Other than that we ran in to problem with the quality of leds in a whole be it for the fob or the umbrella. Overall though it was a project that we feel really came together in a seamless manner and one we had a lot of fun doing. 

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A smart umbrella-share with the ability to offer cover for others and detect lost umbrellas.