About four years ago, we took a look at the Nubrella, a hands-free wearable umbrella that looked like a rain-deflecting space helmet … only somehow bigger and goofier. Well, in those four years, we haven't seen a single person wearing one in public. Sensing a bit of that lack of enthusiasm, Nubrella's designers went back to the drawing board and came up with a new rain-deflecting space helmet design.
As the Nubrella folks tell the story, they successfully sold the original model in more than 82 countries around the world. However, along the way, it became apparent that there was room for improvement. As it turned out, people weren't all that enthralled by the prospect of covering their entire faces with a protective bubble. Nubrella explains on its Indiegogo campaign that people complained about "overkill protection," interference with communication, impaired vision and a dorky look.
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The all-new Nubrella is an attempt at solving those problems – we'll leave it to others to judge just how successful they've been. The new visor section cuts off just above eye level, which opens up the possibility of having a little rain or snow blow in, but we think the average user will embrace the trade-offs of breathing freely and not having plastic sheeting in front of his or her entire face. The new design also extends out farther, giving users the ability to keep their cell phones and other handheld items dry.
The redesigned deflector is secured to a new backpack-style harness with straps and a waist belt. Nubrella even plans to offer a package that includes a removable backpack. When the weather clears, the user simply presses the release buttons and the deflector collapses back behind the neck, eliminating the need for him or her to carry anything. We agree that carrying a wet umbrella is an inconvenience, but this design seems like it opens the potential for dripping water all over one's back, rear and legs. However, it does have a carry handle for transporting it without wearing it.
Like the original, the redesigned Nubrella is built to be free of the inversion that conventional umbrellas suffer in high winds. The company says it can withstand winds up to 40 mph (64 km/h).
While the Nubrella might seem drastically over-designed for the average jaunt from the car to the office, it's really built for those that regularly have one or both hands full in inclement weather for extended periods. The company anticipates it being useful to construction workers, photographers, wheelchair users, and outdoor sports enthusiasts like cyclists and fishermen, among other groups. Weight is listed at 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg).
Nubrella is working to secure funding for tooling through an Indiegogo campaign. It's offering the basic Nubrella at a pledge level of US$49, which is about half the estimated retail price, and a rain-sun version with UV-resistant material at $55. If Nubrella's plans work out, it'll start shipping in April 2015.
Nubrella is also offering its device for preorder on its website, but the price is higher there than on Indiegogo. Hit "play" on the video below to see the full, rather drawn-out Nubrella pitch.