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Hail Protector – The external airbag for your car

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February 21, 2013

The Hail Protector inflates to protect against hail damage

The Hail Protector inflates to protect against hail damage

Image Gallery (7 images)

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, approximately 250,000 cars are damaged by hail every year in the U.S. alone. The average cost of repair comes in at just over US$3,100, so what’s a person to do to protect their vehicle when rain takes the form of ice sculpted golf balls? The obvious solution – airbag the car.

Shifting the airbag from a car's interior to its exterior was the idea of the folks at Texas-based Hail Storm Products. The company's patented Hail Protection System is essentially a puffy car cover/airbag in one that is designed to protect from hail damage.

The system includes a smartphone app – available for iOS and Android – that uses information from the USA’s National Weather Service to provide owners with a warning on the potential for hail 30-60 minutes before a storm hits. For those that have forgotten their phone, the system will also send an email alert.

The cover itself is made up of two layers, the first of which straps to the wheels and under the car, with the second forming the outer protection. The cover inflates via four blowers that are powered by a small compressor that sits idle until the owner engages the defense system using a small remote.

With the ability to inflate in less than five minutes, the manufacturer claims the system can protect vehicles from hail up to the size of a softball. Once the storm has passed, the system then goes on standby and returns to its role as the Clark Kent of car covers.

In addition to hail defense, the cover also offers the usual UV protection, water resistance and breathability when not in armor mode. Installation is also car cover simple, with a few minor steps added for the strapping down and power connections.

The system retails for between $299 and $399, depending on the size of the vehicle to be protected.

The video below shows the Hail Protector inflating at 25x normal speed.

Source. Hail Storm Products

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine.   All articles by Angus MacKenzie
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17 Comments

What is the point of a smartphone app if you have to go out to your car to set it up?

TN
22nd February, 2013 @ 10:36 am PST

Clever idea but...

Don't those big hail storms go together with very strong winds?

Seeing the video suggests this balloon is affected by wind a lot.

Inflated it may become a sail and be pressed against the car. curious how well it handles that. Also the fans inflating the balloon are rather weak suggesting a gust of wind can press the air out of the balloon (deflate it) and it just might take far too long to re-inflate the balloon before hail stones fall.

A video showing that it works will be hard to make but would be more convincing.

Paul van Dinther
22nd February, 2013 @ 12:17 pm PST

I've been looking for something like that to come along and here it is. The video sure reminds me of a Monarch Caterpillar Becoming a Chrysalis. I was waiting for it to burst forth and stretch it's wings.

Buellrider
22nd February, 2013 @ 01:06 pm PST

TN, indulge me and view the video on the home page of our website. It may make more sense on how it all works together. Thanks.

Michael Siciliano
22nd February, 2013 @ 01:54 pm PST

Paul,

Please see the Hail Protector in up to 60mph winds in the 3rd video down on this link:

http://www.hailprotector.com/videos/

The air pressure creates strength. The shape creates aerodynamics. Thanks.

Michael Siciliano
22nd February, 2013 @ 01:56 pm PST

what about the rock storm that is predicted?

just a silly question.

Stewart Mitchell
22nd February, 2013 @ 03:33 pm PST

Funny, Stewart. Yeah, I think that meteor that hit in Russia would be beyond our capabilities.

Michael Siciliano
22nd February, 2013 @ 06:11 pm PST

There are already a lot of weather forecasting apps, another one just adds to the cost. Low portability and a time consuming set up process will make any hail protection system ineffective in a lot of real world scenarios, even if you're lucky enough to get a hail storm warning from a weather app. Sometimes you'll get lucky.

Here's an alternative:

http://www.hail-shield.com

Not very high tech but neither is a comb - it just does what it's meant to do. It's compact and portable, and sets up in an instant. The high-tech is in the thought that went into design rather than the complexity of the product which makes it as simple, and thus fast and inexpensive as possible.

Kiel Stuart (@kielrhys)
22nd February, 2013 @ 09:00 pm PST

Kiel, what we are doing with the application is proprietary and patent pending. It's beyond that of what is offered presently in the USA. Not to mention we're including it for free for the lifetime of your ownership of Hail Protector.

5 minutes of install time when we give you your hail forecast for the day and update it as your hail forecast changes. So you've truly got hours of heads up. Then we give you a 30 to 60 minute heads up to press your button to activate. And once you press the button you begin getting protection within 2 minutes and have full protection within 5 minutes. Powered by AA batteries for 1 hour, powered by cigarette lighter cord for 2.5 hours without effecting the starting power of your car or by AC outlet virtually indefinitely. Packs up in the size of a dry cleaning bag. Portability was essential to the design.

Michael Siciliano
23rd February, 2013 @ 10:39 am PST

Saw it on Invention USA television series. Great to see that it's coming to market. You guys put a lot of years and dedication in, and best wishes!

Lumen
23rd February, 2013 @ 02:55 pm PST

Or... just get 2 sleeping bags from Walmart for a fraction of that price...

Tonghowe Seeto
24th February, 2013 @ 04:48 pm PST

It would be a product I would buy if it can detect hail coming down, and self set up before the first stones land autonomously.

sk8dad
25th February, 2013 @ 01:00 pm PST

sk8dad, we monitor the location you've selected among 4 addresses you've registered with us, or we track you via GPS if you select that feature. We put a perimeter around you and alert you via mobile app and/or email to hail or the potential for hail in your selected area, giving you a 30 to 60 minute heads up. As far as self set up is concerned, it's really a pretty easy 5 minute install. Designed it around the thought that a woman in a business suit would be installing it. No knee needs go on the ground to install.

Michael Siciliano
25th February, 2013 @ 08:58 pm PST

Oh hail no!

Dennis Roberts
28th February, 2013 @ 10:41 pm PST

HAIL PROTECTOR is Now Available on California based crowdfunding platform INDIEGOGO. Here is the link: http://igg.me/at/hailprotector/x/2270994 Please join us in the effort to bring this product to market!

Michael Siciliano
22nd March, 2013 @ 02:29 pm PDT

Well the crowdfunding thing was a circus, so we have now launched The Hail Protector System in a normal fashion, thanks to a few great investors. Check us out at http://www.hailprotector.com/ At less than the price of the typical $500 deductible ($299 to $399) and including the most powerful early warning hail alert engine in the world, plus all the accessories we include, it's a tremendous value that is going to change auto hail damage forever.

Michael Siciliano
13th August, 2013 @ 01:18 pm PDT

See our latest demonstration 'World's Largest Hail Stone vs. World's First Automobile Hail Protection System', done for a group of insurance executives in January 2014. We've dropped hundreds of pounds of ice, had cannons of ice shot at the Hail Protector, dropped cantaloupes, watermelons and pavestones, but no test is more impressive than this...



Don't forget, the system comes with hail forecasting, for oftentimes hours of preparation and 30 minute hail alerting on up to 4 addresses, via email and/or text message. The complete system. The only system. Any size car. Any size hail.

Michael Siciliano
27th January, 2014 @ 11:07 pm PST
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