What: Blunt + Tile umbrella.
Price: $99 to $124.
Tech Talk verdict: The Albert Einstein of umbrellas.

blunt 1My most embarrassing umbrella moment came in a restaurant when, after being wined and dined by a couple of PR people at a window table overlooking Sydney Harbour, I went to retrieve my umbrella from the communal bin at the entrance. And some low dog had taken it, confirming much I have heard about Sydney.

It was raining. Hard. So I figured if someone had taken my umbrella I’d do the Sydney thing take someone else’s, helping myself to a random black number there. It was only when I got back to my car and collapsed the umbrella that I realised it actually belonged to one of the people I had just had lunch with. This would have confirmed to him much of what he has heard about journalists.

I start to get the shakes when I think about all the umbrellas I’ve lost. I have left them in cafes, in taxis and trains and airports. I’ve seen them blow away, I’ve even lost one at sea. Then there are the umbrellas that have irreparably broken their limbs by being blown inside-out during storms at which time, just like horses, they must be put out of their misery. I wish I could have back all the money I’ve spent on umbrellas. A survey somewhere said that of all the items we lose on a regular basis umbrellas finish in the top five.

blunt 2A couple of years ago a New Zealand company called Blunt unveiled an umbrella that stands up to a force 12 gale (that’s 118 kmh). It is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of umbrellas and I have been using one since its launch. It remains pristine despite some very torrid outings indeed. I haven’t lost, misplaced or mislaid it, and I have eschewed communal bins at restaurants. At $70 a copy one takes such measures.

Now Blunt has come up with an umbrella that is not only unbreakable, it also tells you where you’ve left it. The company has included a built-in chip in some models that operates with a phone app and if it’s within 15 to 30 metres you can call it up with your phone and it will play a happy little tune until you find it. I don’t know what the tune is but I do know that in most Sydney restaurants you wouldn’t hear it anyway.

If it is out of range the app will tell you where it last was when you were nearby, so at least you’ll know where you left it. But if it has gone walkies with someone from Sydney, or a rude journalist, well this is not a tracking device, the location feature only works within a 15 to 30-metre range, so you’re on your own. Best take someone else’s umbrella. Just make sure it’s not the guy who has just bought you lunch.

Published February 2014


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