Introducing SUNFLOWER by ShadeCraft
In more refined neighborhoods, it might be called a parasol. In the Midwest, folks may call it a backyard umbrella. But at ShadeCraft in Pasadena, California, it’s called SUNFLOWER, a robotic shade creator that automatically tracks the sun to capture its own energy to power on-board sensors and technology ready to serve your every whim.
Part parasol, part technology hub, SUNFLOWER improves human life outdoors. A Bluetooth-enabled, Wi-Fi-connected device, SUNFLOWER “wakes up” in the morning, understands how to receive maximum energy from its environment, moves with the sun to provide you with shade all day long, and automatically closes based on wind and weather.
Your Wish Is My Command
SUNFLOWER can be voice commanded or controlled by a smartphone. In the evening, SUNFLOWER smartly illuminates a space with its internal lighting system, provides outlets for recharging smartphones, and pumps out top-shelf tunes from a five-star Harman Kardon sound system. Plus, SUNFLOWER connects to the Internet of Things (IoT), so its onboard camera can interface with a home security system.
“It’s about bringing many conveniences into one object,” says founder and CEO Armen Gharabegian. “SUNFLOWER is a robot but also an object of beauty that functions on multiple levels to meet consumer needs.”
With over 20 years of experience in production, industrial design, and product development, Gharabegian is an accomplished inventor, entrepreneur, and industrial design pioneer who travels worldwide to speak on design, biomimicry, and robotics.
“Current sun shading devices are not flexible, modifiable, or adaptable to changing environmental conditions,” says Gharabegian. “Many require repeated manual operation of the frame to continuously fully protect a person from the sun.”
Smart Device, Smart Energy
Instead of moving stuff around your parasol to stay in the shade, SUNFLOWER moves with the sun to provide continuous shade without the hassle of constantly rearranging your furniture. SUNFLOWER is the first autonomous intelligent parasol that captures the sun’s energy and converts it into automation.
“It’s the Golden Age of Design, though we’re calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Gharabegian. “It’s opening doors for a new era of industrial design that invites and celebrates industrial and electrical software and mechanical design merging in one discipline.”
Artistry and Functionality
SUNFLOWER combines functionality and aesthetics in an entirely new way. “A great deal of engineering and design goes into SUNFLOWER,” says Mike Kelley, senior mechanical engineer at ShadeCraft. “We’re making form and function work symbiotically.”
The company uses SOLIDWORKS for 3D CAD, purchased from reseller GoEngineer. “Collision detection and limit mates in SOLIDWORKS is a huge time and money saver,” says Kelley. “We can now verify designs digitally. No more going back to the drawing board when machined parts don’t work as planned.”
Kelley also leverages GoEngineer’s online videos. “When you start delving into certain types of functions or features in SOLIDWORKS it can get pretty overwhelming, but if you watch a quick video on a topic, all of a sudden it becomes achievable.”
Pictures Speak 1,000 Words
In most companies, several disciplines are represented on project teams. It is important to communicate in a way that everyone can understand. “Because I’m mechanically inclined, I often assume everybody already knows what I’m talking about … but that’s not the case at all,” says Kelley.
SOLIDWORKS has several tools that help get all departments on the same page, regardless of whether they have an engineering or artistic background. Kelley continues: “It is surprising how quickly the entire team ‘gets it’ once we communicate using visual illustrations in eDrawings—it’s a huge time-saver!”
ShadeCraft is designing several other robots with SOLIDWORKS that will be released in the next year or so. The company takes full advantage of the SOLIDWORKS software to create beautiful, flexible, and fully featured products. We are looking forward to what’s next!