Update 10/23/14: Project has raised nearly $100,000 with 17 hours remaining.
The premise of this “umbrella” is simple: Blast air at an upward and outward angle out of a tube to deflect falling rain away from the user.
But could it really work?
I’m skeptical, but as of writing, about 500 people have already pledged $60,000 to the project on the fundraising site Kickstarter.
The Air Umbrella will be offered in three sizes, one for “Female” that is 30 cm long, a standard 50 cm model, and a telescoping version. The company claims run-times of 15 to 30 minutes.
I’m generally excited to see new technology applied to goods that make life better, but am hesitant to support this overly complicated solution to rain avoidance.
The idea of walking through a storm blasting rain drops away with a jet of air seems amusing, but also wasteful and maybe ineffective. To be fair, if it does work, this would be useful for navigating large crowds in the rain.
Reading the Kickstarter proposal, the creators of the Air Umbrella seem hesitant to claim much success. After two years of product development, this direct quote from the page sums up their not-so-glowing esteem.
“Luckily, one of our samples achieved the goal of protecting one or even more persons from the rain in the test in November 2012. But the product still needed more improvement. As the sample was designed to take a large amount of airflow, the top was big, which didn’t achieve the portable characteristic.”
The company claims to have improved the model since then with the help of aeronautical engineering students, but its changes to improve the appearance “may influence the effect.”
Doesn’t exactly sound confident.
500 people have been convinced though, with many spending more than $100 for the Air Umbrella. Sure it might work. But replacing a simple umbrella with a complex, battery-operated device is the antithesis of environmentalism.
Kickstarter is an amazing tool for fueling innovation. But choose wisely when supporting new products. With this model already fully funded, I’d wait until it’s tested before shelling out your hard-earned money.