In the annals of tools that humans use, the umbrella is one that has consistently beat out other tools to keep you dry in a rainstorm. The umbrella has been around in some form for more than a thousand years, whether made with palm leaves or oiled silk or whalebone or steel. (For a complete rundown on the history of umbrellas and umbrella-related innovation, we point you to this Susan Orlean article.) It has it’s failings, sure. There’s always the question of sideways rain. Umbrellas turn inside out, are easy to lose. But you know what the world absolutely just does not need? An invisible, battery-powered air umbrella.
This “Emperor Has No Clothes” esque invention has been making the internet rounds, courtesy of a Kickstarter from a team of Chinese designers. The premise is that rather than having a regular umbrella, you can have a gizmo that blasts air in such a way that it creates a canopy over your head and thwarts the rain. It works using a motor and a lithium battery. It’s available in two sizes, plus on that’s adjustable. Currenty, it’s raised more than eight times the initial amount that it was setting out to crowdsource, and the creators hope it will be in production shortly. It is truly the most SkyMall way to avoid getting drenched.
Drawbacks: It has a short battery life of 15-30 minutes. Actually, it has a battery life at all, which is not something that you want to have to worry about if you use an umbrella like a normal human. Like all umbrellas, they become useless during a sudden gale. It’s unclear what the price point will be on these babies, but I bet you it will be far more than the regular kind. Plus unlike when you leave a normal umbrella behind at a bar, you won’t just be able to be momentarily pissed and move on with your life. It’ll be more like losing your phone than a piece of weather-proofing equipment. You do not need an air umbrella. Absolutely no one needs an air umbrella.