A group of Chinese entrepreneurs recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the "Air Umbrella." This device does away with flimsy pieces of fabric and instead uses powerful streams of air to repel the rain. The entrepreneurs first came up with the idea back in 2012, but now they say they're finally getting close to introducing a product to the market.
The umbrellas they've designed so far resemble flashlights, and they come in three sizes (including a petite version "for females"). As Gizmag points out, this isn't the first time someone has tried to reinvent the umbrella. "There was the solar-powered Booster Brolly, the windproof Rainshader and the lopsided Rain Shield, just to name a few," Gizmag reports. And in fact, another team also proposed the air flow idea, back in 2010. But this idea seems exceptionally popular (it has more than 400 backers on Kickstarter) and, if the creators are accurately reporting their results, seems to be pretty close to becoming a reality.
There are a few drawbacks. The umbrellas initially will be pretty expensive—about $60 if they are mass produced, $200 for the first models—and their batteries only last about 30 minutes. Like normal umbrellas, they cannot protect you from gale-force storms, but the creators say that the new models have performed well in heavy rains. The air umbrellas also create a splatter effect, so people standing nearby who don't have their own umbrellas will get an extra shower, although as the creators point out, "they will get wet in a rainy day if not taking umbrella anyway."