Made In The Shade

Online Exclusive posted Monday, January 8, 2018 - 4:12pm

A new company in Pasadena, Calif., is offering to make it easier for people with mobility issues to enjoy healthy time in the sun with the Sunflower smart umbrella from Shadecraft.

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It may not seem like it in some parts of the country, but summer is right around the corner and you’ll soon want to be spending time outside enjoying the sun on a nice patio or deck. Of course, too much time in the sun can be dangerous with the risks of overheating, sunburn and the long-term threat of skin cancer. That’s where a nice patio-style umbrella can come in handy. 

However, opening and closing such a big umbrella can be a hassle if you have limited mobility, reach or arm strength.

A new company in Pasadena, Calif., is offering to make it easier for people with mobility issues to enjoy healthy time in the sun with the Sunflower smart umbrella from Shadecraft. The solar-powered device offers voice-activated control, smart-home integration, environmental safety sensors and more.

“We are basically the world’s first autonomous outdoor robotic shade system that is an AI [artificial intelligence] integrated intelligent robot,” says Shadecraft CEO and founder Armen Gharabegian with Shadecraft. “It connects you to the internet of things (IOT) and will have an open communication with your smart home eco system. You’ll be able to control it, and it will be able to control things.”

On display at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, the Sunflower allows you to open, close or tilt the shade with your voice, a smartphone or tablet application or through smart-home technology. Using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to integrate the shade with IOT technology such as smart-home devices, Alexa or Siri opens up a different world of features and accessibility. Not only can you control Sunflower from inside your home before you go outside, but you can use the shade itself to control things in your home when you’re ready to go back inside.

“You can communicate with the AI unit in your home and say, ‘Can you please open the shade?’ and it’ll be open for you by the time you get there,” Gharabegian says. “As you get out to the shade you can say, ‘Please tilt for me’ or ‘Can you turn on my lights?’ It’s the first time that an object is meaningful enough to bring outdoors and have you connect to the rest of your smart home eco system.”

Besides the convenience of basic operations, the Sunflower also offers the benefit of environmental sensors that can track ultraviolet radiation, methane, carbon monoxide and inclement weather. The sun sensors automatically track the sun to provide the best solar energy to charge its battery, as well as provide users with the best possible shade. You can also choose to have Sunflower notify you of how long you’ve been out in the sun or what days are best to be outside.

Other features of the Sunflower include lights, built-in speakers and a high-definition, 360-degree camera that can be used for security or just for fun. Gharabegian says packing something as simple as a sun shade with lots of convenient and useful features and turning it into such a unique and integrated piece of the modern smart home was Shadecraft’s idea from the start.

“We’re just a bunch of inventors and engineers that wanted to do something that was meaningful,” he says.

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Made In The Shade


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