We've all lost an umbrella before. Usually just before it buckets down with rain and you actually need one. This particular gadget won't solve the problem of you getting entirely drenched in the meantime, but it'll make sure that if you're savvy enough, you'll always know where your brolly is. The Blunt XS_Metro + Tile is an umbrella -- an umbrella with GPS and Bluetooth, no less -- that you can never lose.
What Is It?
Arriving in a small cylindrical tube, the $99 Blunt XS_Metro is a 14-inch umbrella (345mm) with a black canopy made of some seriously sturdy polyester and finished in grey, red or blue accents. It comes with an equally sturdy carry cover, too, with a zipper and expandable section that means you can easy slide it over the XS_Metro even when it's wet and full of leftover rain.
The XS_Metro is very well built. Every crucial seam is double-stitched, and like any Blunt umbrella its eight corners are smoothly rounded. Every part of the XS_Metro's spindly backbone is either sturdy fibreglass or a metal spring, and everything feels very well put together. The spring-loaded telescoping mechanism pops the umbrella out and simultaneously expands the canopy, so you can use it one-handed if you have the cover off and Velcro-tipped closure strap undone.
But it's not the construction of the Blunt XS_Metro umbrella that is of interest here. Not all of it, really. There's one little section on the umbrella's interior with a small slit on it, and it's into that pocket that the Tile goes. That's why it's actually called the XS_Metro + Tile.
Tile is a little Bluetooth Low Energy puck that works with the Tile app on your smartphone, logging its location regularly in the background. Because it all happens quietly, and because you don't need to charge the puck -- it has a year of battery life -- any time you have your smartphone and umbrella together, the Tile and its app will talk to each other and store an ongoing location record.
Tile initially started with only an iOS app, but there's now an Android version as well -- useful for the other half of the smartphone market. The setup process is actually really simple, too -- just long-press the E on the Tile puck, wait until the app recognises it, then give it a name (like Blunt Umbrella, perhaps). After that, you're set -- you'll never lose it again.
Any time you open the Tile app, it'll poll for your nearby Blunt. If it finds it, it'll show you its rough location and give you a prompt to set off an alarm so you can track it down. If it's not nearby, it'll show you the location where it was last found on a map. If you have multiple devices, you can install Tile on them and sign in, and they'll recognise your nearby Blunt Umbrella and add that location data for later use.
The concept is a great one. It works really well, as long as you have Tile installed on your smartphone. You can use the Tile puck on your keys or any other easily-loseable gadget too, of course, but the fact that Blunt has been smart enough to bundle one with the XS_Metro and build in a pocket to store the puck long-term.
Should You Buy It?
The Blunt XS_Metro is a great idea. If you've ever lost a nice umbrella, you'll know the feeling; it's so frustrating being stuck without cover from the rain when you need it. Even if you don't have your umbrella with you, knowing where it is in the first place is some small comfort.
And that's exactly what Tile does. The tiny Bluetooth-enabled chip talks to your smartphone and the app logs its last location; as long as you had your phone around with you (and most of us always do) when you lost your umbrella, you'll be able to find it again. As long as no-one takes it with them, of course.
It also helps that the XS_Metro is very well made. It's an umbrella that's going to last just as long as the Tile itself is, and much longer again; you could use this for more than a few wet seasons and remain entirely protected from the elements. The XS_Metro isn't the best choice for larger individuals, though -- for that, jump up a size class to the Classic.
As long as you remember to replace that little white Tile after a year, there's no chance of you misplacing the Blunt XS_Metro. You'll always be able to find it by booting up your Tile app. Whether you're smart enough to remember to bring the umbrella with you in the first place to wherever you need it, well, that's another question entirely.