People certainly haven't been afraid to try and reinvent the umbrella over the years. There was the solar-powered Booster Brolly
, the windproof Rainshader
and the lopsided Rain Shield
, just to name a few. But now a team of Chinese designers is looking to do away with the awkward metal poles and canopy entirely, relying instead on a "force field" of air to keep you nice and dry.
There have been several attempts to improve upon the basic umbrella in recent years – the Rain Shield
, which offers shelter from the wind; the Air umbrella
, which uses a fan to stop the rain; and Nubrella
, which is worn like a space helmet. Now, we have the smartphone-connected Kisha.
Nobody likes getting rained on while cycling, yet most of us probably aren’t quite ready to shell out for an enclosed velomobile
, either. That’s why Swiss company Allnew recently introduced Dryve – it’s a flexible, detachable rain cover for bikes.
When we complain about the rain, other people will often say "Yeah, but it's good for the plants." Well, thanks to a microturbine-based system created by three students from the Technological University of Mexico, it's now also being used to generate electricity for use in low-income homes.
Windshield wipers are life-savers, but also can drive one to distraction with their incessant streaking and chattering. Well, the tyranny of the wipers may soon be over. McLaren Automotive’s chief designer Frank Stephenson told The Sunday Times that the performance motoring company is investigating the use of "ultrasonic force fields" to replace windshield wipers in automobiles. While Stephenson referred to a military source for McLaren's tech, there appears to be very little public information on how such force fields might clean a windshield during a storm, so I'm taking a look at the patent history to see how this might be accomplished.
Rain gauges are generally pretty accurate at measuring the amount of precipitation that has fallen at their location, but they can't be everywhere. This means that average rainfall figures for a region could be inaccurate, if considerably more or less rain has been falling in unmonitored areas. Cars, however, are just about everywhere that there are roads. With that in mind, researchers from Germany's University of Hanover are looking at using them
to tell us how much water is coming from the sky.
We’ve seen a bicycle mudguard that detaches from the bike
and folds up when not in use, along with one that stays attached but rolls up
when not needed. Created by Slovenian product designer Jurij Lozić, the Musguard offers features of both – it’s easy to put on and take off, and rolls up for stowage in a pack or pocket.
Although there are already plenty of good bicycle fenders out there, some people don’t like the way they rattle around, while others think that they detract from the looks of the bike. One option is to use something like the QuickFix
, which is a fold-flat rear mudguard that attaches to the frame in seconds. The Plume, however, takes a different approach – it’s a mudguard that recoils like a metal tape measure when not in use.
The core design of the humble umbrella hasn't changed in centuries. While it works extremely well, very few people would consider the traditional umbrella to be perfect, which presents inventive designers with several problems in need of solutions. Rain Shield aims to solve several of these problems in one innovative hit.
Driving at night in falling rain or snow can be treacherous, but not just because the asphalt is slippery – visibility is also greatly reduced, as the driver’s view of the road ahead is obscured by brightly headlight-lit raindrops or snowflakes. In the future, however, that may not be so much of a problem. A team led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Prof. Srinivasa Narasimhan has developed an experimental headlight system that renders most foreground precipitation virtually invisible, while still adequately illuminating the road beyond.