Will Dean's Ideas Factory: 'Lampbrella' - the most ridiculous useful invention ever?


It's the kind of idea that 12 months ago would have probably seen its creator laughed out of the room. But here in Britain, where a summer day without a downpour is greeted with dances towards the ultra-violet sun gods... you know, it might just work.

As you may have grasped from the picture above, this is the "Lampbrella", a device that – and here's the clever part – as soon as it detects rain will lift up offering a vital dry space to those reading in the park or in places such as festival sites where there isn't much cover.

The idea is the brainchild of St Petersburg designer Mikhail Belyaev, whose previous works include an innovative two-legged bench designed to allow people to sit on slopes in parks (it seems as though he likes parks, right?). On Behance, the portfolio network showing off Belyaev's work, he says: "This is a street lamp with umbrella. It can be installed anywhere in the city, where many people walk, but there are no canopies or large trees where you can hide from the rain.

"It is possible to use the rain sensor. As well as a motion sensor , which will report to an electric drive in two to three minutes that there are no people under an umbrella and it needs to be closed." Handy!

If you were worried about getting thwacked in the jaw by a swiftly erected lampbrella, don't worry, it only lifts up at what its maker calls "low-middle speed". You'll never get wet in public again.

See more: bit.ly/lampbrella

Have the 'zombie cyclists' won the road sound wars?

If you've ever cycled, driven, or walked in a busy city you'll have noticed that many of those on two wheels keep themselves entertained with headphones.

Non-cyclists are often quick to pour scorn on this set-up as being dangerous – due to cyclists not being able to hear motor traffic coming. Which is fair enough, you'd suppose. (For the record, I tend to go with a podcast and one headphone, which makes hearing fine, your honour.)

But while playing music so loud that you can't hear anything other than Robert Plant's howling the chorus of Rock and Roll is probably stupid – is a "zombie cyclist" any deafer to the road than a driver?

Australian bike magazine Ride On put this question to the test with an experiement to find out the sound levels of road noise heard by a driver in a car and a cyclist with an iPod.

It discovered that not only are cars very soundproof, but a driver listening to music can hear much less road noise – ie, a bike bell – than a cyclist with music. (Though it's key that solid 'bud' style earphones let in a lot more road noise than expensive in-ear ones.) However, a cyclist with in-ear headphones can hear about the same outside noise as a driver not listening to music.

A win to the cyclists? Maybe. But it's still not wise to crank it all the way up to 11.

Read more: bit.ly/bikebuds

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