Sep 13, 2011
This isn't the first adaptive umbrella I've written about, but it's certainly as timely, and there's now a prototype in development. Mark Shepard is creating a Sentient City Survival Kit, "set of artifacts for survival in the near-future sentient city":
As computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets and public spaces of the city, information processing becomes embedded in and distributed throughout the material fabric of everyday urban space. Pervasive/ubiquitous computing evangelists herald a coming age of urban information systems capable of sensing and responding to the events and activities transpiring around them. Imbued with the capacity to remember, correlate and anticipate, this "sentient" city is envisioned as being capable of reflexively monitoring our behavior within it and becoming an active agent in the organization of our daily lives.
One of the artifacts he's developing is this CCD-me-not umbrella that disrupts the now-near-constant gaze of surveillance cameras.
The umbrella is "studded with infrared LEDs visible only to CCD surveillance cameras, designed to frustrate object detection algorithms used in computer vision surveillance systems."
Here's the view of typical umbrellas as seen by surveillance monitors:
And here's the imagined view with Shepard's LED-outfitted umbrella activated (click on the link to Vimeo if you can't see the video here; I'm having trouble embedding):
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/14205709 w=400&h=225]
Here's the prototype in its working-development stage: