High-Tech Umbrella Concept Would Use Air To Keep You Dry When It Rains

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
If you’re the kind of person that hates getting wet during a rainstorm but doesn’t want a large fabric dome covering your head, Chinese inventor Chuan Wang has the answer you’ve been waiting for: a new high-tech device that resembles a massager and uses air to create an invisible “force field” to keep the showers at bay.
The device is fittingly known as the Air Umbrella, and to say it has drawn a lot of interest would be a massive understatement, as its Kickstarter campaign surged well past its $10,000 goal and to date has already earned over $94,000 in pledges. The Air Umbrella apparently uses a motor and a lithium battery to create a canopy of air providing an invisible cover that keeps the user dry.
As Elizabeth Anderson of The Telegraph explains, the lithium battery powers the motor, which operates a rotating fan-type mechanism at the top. The fan draws in air at the bottom of the head, then expels it from the top at high pressure, forming the protective air curtain above the user. A button located at the bottom turns it on or off, and the base can also be twisted in order to change the pressure of the air being emitted.

“There’s a lot to digest here,” said Harry Bradford of the Huffington Post. “Is it real? Doesn’t this seem like an overly complicated solution to a fairly simple problem? Wasn’t that fairly simple problem already solved by, um, normal umbrellas? And doesn’t the Air umbrella look a lot like a sex toy?”
Chuan Wang, who worked on the project along with postgraduates from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and PhD graduates from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is reportedly considering changing the appearance of the device, which might at least solve one of the issues brought up by Bradford.
They are also apparently working on improving the Air Umbrella’s battery life, which ranges from just 15 to 30 minutes currently. There are three different models in the works, a basic style (air umbrella-b), a smaller type designed especially for women (air umbrella-a) and scalable version (air umbrella-c). The ‘a’ model is the smallest, and is apparently designed to fit in handbags, but also has the shortest battery life of the three.
A battery-powered device that uses air to keep people dry when it’s raining might seem a bit unusual, but the product’s Kickstarter page assures that the device is, in fact, water proof and has a coverage area of more than one meter in diameter – just enough space for two people to squeeze beneath the protective area in a pinch. They also noted that the battery currently takes between 30 minutes (for the air umbrella-a) to just under one hour to charge.
In addition to improving the product’s appearance, the inventors said that they will be adding a power display function and other auxiliary functions to the Air Umbrella, which will take them until next June. Anderson said that they hope to have the finished products available in December 2015 and that they will cost between $88 and $108 – and Chuan Wang promises to return all crowdsourced funds to sponsors by January 31, 2016 if they are unable to deliver.