Anyone who has experienced the joy of driving through a rainstorm with the sunroof open understands how the airflow around the moving vehicle can keep you dry despite the exposure. Now a similar principle is being applied to create an umbrella that protects you from the rain using nothing more than an invisible air 'force field.'
Air Umbrella, developed by a Chinese company and recently funded on Kickstarter, uses forced air rather than fabric to create a protective canopy that keeps you from getting wet in the rain. You can view their kickstarter video here:
It's a clever concept and designers have done a good job of answering several concerns about the product. For instance, the sound generated by the device is minimal, especially when compared to the pitter-patter of the falling rain. It can create a protective canopy wide enough for two people to fit under, and it performs well even in heavy rain. The air shield can be cut through by high winds, but given that regular umbrellas typically fold over in similar windy conditions, the air umbrella is still an upgrade.
A few concerns do remain, however. For instance, the battery life is only about 15-30 minutes depending on the model, so you'll still want to walk briskly to your next destination when it's raining out. Also, while the air shield might push the rain away from you, it's likely to splash all that blown-away water on everyone else like a sprinkler. So the device might draw the ire of anyone else walking with you, or any helpless bystanders.
There are currently three different designs to choose from if you're interested in investing. Air umbrella-A is the lightest model, and is apparently designed specifically "for females," according to the Chinese developers. It is about 12 inches in length and weighs a little over a pound, and it runs for 15 minutes per charge. Air umbrella-B measures at nearly 20 inches long and weighs 1.7 pounds, and lasts 30 minutes per charge. Finally, the upscale C model also lasts 30 minutes, but is scalable between 20 and 32 inches depending on your needs.
So, in short, the good news is that this might be the end of having to lug around a soggy umbrella. The bad news is that the Air umbrella might be more aptly titled the Air sprinkler for anyone standing around you.
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