A Chinese inventor has come up with an “umbrella” that uses air rather than fabric. It’s great news for the user, but not so much for fellow pedestrians.
The project, which has destroyed its Kickstarter funding target, is still very much in development and inventor Chuan Wang expects to refine the device heavily before a scheduled late 2015 commercial release. The design drawings are certainly primitive and only one of three planned models has actually been created and tested.
The umbrella works on a simple principle: it uses a rotating fan to draw in air and then force it back out at high pressure, the idea being to create a “field” of air with enough force to divert falling rain. Of course, if you’re stood anywhere near the user, you’re probably getting a face full of spray. The area of protection is around a meter in diameter but varies depending on the intensity of the rain; for lighter downpours, it may be enough to cover two people.
The controls will consist of an on/off button at the bottom and a twistable base to control the force of the airflow. Though the fan motor does make noise, it’s said to be quieter than the rain itself.
The main model is planned to be 50 centimeters long and weigh 800 grams. It’ll be powered by a rechargeable battery with about 30 minutes of life on each charge. The plans are for a smaller model (30cm, 500g) that will fit in a bag but have only 15 minutes of battery life, and a larger model that can extend from 50cm to 80cm. Final pricing isn’t confirmed but it looks set to be just over $100 for the basic model.
Chang says he’s been working on the project since 2012 with postgraduates from Aeronautics and Astronautics schools at Nanjing and Beijing University. While the principle has worked in testing, the challenge has been finding the right balance of the size of the fan unit (and thus the device’s portability) and the sufficient force to expel the air and create the invisible “shield”.
[Via: The Telegraph]