The core design of the humble umbrella hasn't changed in centuries. The main reason for this being that the umbrella, as humble as it may be, works extremely well. Until someone designs a new version of the umbrella that actually offers some real advantages over its forebears, people are going to continue to use those already on the market. However, very few people would consider the umbrella to be perfect, which presents creative and inventive designers with several problems in need of solutions. Rain Shield solves several of these problems in one innovative hit.
Rain Shield is an umbrella that has been given an extension to one side. Rather than existing as a canopy hanging over the user and directing the rain downwards, it adds a shield element to proceedings, hence the name. This immediately remedies two problems associated with umbrellas: 1. Protection from sideways rain or splashes from cars. 2. The risk of the umbrella being blown inside out by strong winds.
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In addition to the changes made to the shape and nature of the canopy, Rain Shield also loses the complicated structure of rods and wires seen in a typical umbrella. Instead, a telescopic rod and single curved steel wire are used to keep the canopy rigid. This remedies another two problems associated with umbrellas: 1. The danger of poking either your own or someone else's eyes out with the pointed tips of the wires. 2. The pole you hold is positioned to one side, meaning the user is better protected.
Rain Shield is the creation of Taiwanese designers Lin Min-Wei and Liu Li-Hsiang. Liu demonstrates how the concept works in the video at the end of this article. This demo includes showing how Rain Shield can be broken down until it's just a small disc, able to be stored in bags in the same way a mini umbrella can be.
Rain Shield recently won a Red Dot design concept award at a ceremony held in Singapore. While it's only a concept at present, Liu has indicated a desire to place Rain Shield on Kickstarter in the hopes of building interest. If a wearable umbrella can make it to market, then I see no reason why Rain Shield couldn't do so too.