Industrial design student Quentin Debaene's Dyson-Powered Invisible Umbrella concept generated strong interest when we showed it to you last year. Created as submission for the James Dyson Award, Debaene estimated that his fabric-less umbrella design, which would blow air so forcefully that falling water would be repelled, could be built in the year 2050. Now, however, a self-described research team in China is claiming they can produce an air-blowing, no-fabric umbrella by next year.
As of yesterday, the anonymous development team has successfully Kickstarted their Air Umbrella project (with a shockingly low US $10,000 target).
But before you get too excited, a couple of caveats. One is that the development team's identity and credentials are murky. While they say "We are a R&D team from China. Most of our members hold Ph.D/Master degree of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics or Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics," the only person listed by name on the campaign, a Chuan Wang, has a Facebook profile that does not list a college degree, indicating only that s/he "studied at" Southeast University in Nanjing.
Caveat number two is that the error-riddled presentation is a bit underwhelming. But we'll let you be the judge:
So whaddaya think, is this the real deal, or will it turn out to be vaporware? The team is estimating delivery by 2015, and ballparking the retail price at US $200.
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I think I will stick to a standard unbrella; cheaper and I don't have to worry about the battery dieing half way to my destination.
What is the interaction when two similar devices come close to each other? How about when walking in a crowd of conventional umbrellas?
Hopefully it's better than the IP32 it appears to be.
My final words: Innovation is driven by need, not Kickstarter.