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Hacked 8-bit music umbrella rocks out as it rains

There are umbrellas, and then there are awesome geeky umbrellas that play rollicking 8-bit tunes as rain drops on them.

8-bit umbrella
This is not your grandmother's umbrella. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Pop quiz. You have 12 piezo sensors, Arduino Uno, two speakers, lots of wire, and plenty of duct tape. There is an umbrella nearby. What do you make? How about a musical umbrella that translates raindrops into song?

Inside the 8-bit umbrella
Take a peek under the hood. (Click to enlarge.) Alice Zappe

Two creative Germans, Alice Zappe and Julia Lager, built an umbrella that detects raindrops and interprets them as 8-bit music. This could turn a regular walk down the street into a personalized retro gaming adventure.

The project was designed for Music Hack Day in Amsterdam, a weekend full of music-related hacking projects.

The prototype umbrella is quaintly named "It's raining bits." I'm adding a mental "hallelujah" onto the end.

According to a Wiki description of "It's raining bits," the most challenging part of the project was locating a watering can in Amsterdam.

Piezo sensors on the underside of the umbrella detect when a raindrop falls and then generate beeping 8-bit tones. Give it a full rain storm and you get some frantic musical tinkling that would sound right at home in an early Mario game.

The creators may have tested the umbrella prototype using a watering can, but they note it also works just fine with beer. Keep that in mind the next time your have a keg and an 8-bit music-playing umbrella together in the same place.

(Via BBC News)