Dave Kahng has been making durable umbrellas with beautiful modern designs for years, first out of his New York home and then from a small office in midtown Manhattan, but he was running into one big problem.
“Our umbrellas, in general, are pretty expensive,” he said of the company’s Davek-branded products. “People are concerned that they’ll lose them.”
So Kahng went to work on a solution. Last year, he launched the Davek Alert umbrella on Kickstarter. The first model was a success and now the company is back with two new models. The Alert Mini is small enough to fit in your pocket while the Alert Grande is large enough to keep you dry in any storm.
The concept is pretty simple. You’ll get a notification if you walk more than 30 feet from the umbrella, thanks to an included Bluetooth chip. The umbrella also packs an accelerometer so it knows when it’s in use. It will also go to sleep automatically if you leave it in the closet for a while. That means the replaceable disc battery should last at least a full year before it needs to be swapped out.
Even without the Bluetooth chip, Davek’s umbrellas are pretty impressive. The canopy is made from a 190-thread count microfiber and the shaft is solid steel. The support ribs are particularly durable thanks to a combination of steel, aircraft-grade aluminum and flexible fiberglass. Add a bit of tech hidden in the handle and you’ve really got something special.
The app is pretty barebones as well. You won’t need to use it much beyond the initial pairing, which takes just a few seconds. The app also has a few bonus features like Weather Channel integration, and Kahng says even more features are coming to the app soon.
You can pre-order the Alert Mini for $49 (that’s a $20 discount), or grab the Alert Grande for $99 (down from $169). Both are set to arrive in September, and Khang is confident that he’ll be able to ship them in time. After all, he already has the umbrellas and the technology. All he has to do is combine them.
Regular non-smart umbrellas still make up the vast majority of Davek’s business but, for Kahng, the alert service is more of a passion project than anything else. “This was my hobby,” he said. “It’s sort of a labor of love.”