Anyone that looks at press releases with any regularity will no doubt have felt the onset of re- fatigue, induced by the weight of new products which claim to "rethink," "re-imagine" and "redefine" things (but seldom do). So while we're a little dubious of the claim that Rainshader "reinvents" the umbrella – it is still a canopy on a stick, after all – at least there's no denying that there is actual innovation in evidence. Apparently the helmet-shaped Rainshader doesn't turn inside out in the wind, drip on people, or poke them in the eye.
If it sounds like inventor Stephen Collier has sapped all the joy from the humble umble, the Rainshader's streamlined form at least makes it easier to cut through a crowd. Collier came up with the idea at The Grand National (the UK's foremost horse race, where amblers of the two-legged variety are rife). He's not the first to revisit the established form of the umbrella, of course, with the Rain Shield perhaps the quirkiest of the ideas we've seen.
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Unlike an ordinary umbrella, which channels water in all directions from its center, the Rainshader instead channels water forwards and backwards via parallel panels of material. So long as the person directly behind the Rainshadee can see, they should know not to stand so close as to be dripped on. The back of the Rainshader hangs low over the user's shoulders and the front is cut away to see forwards (though sideway vision would seem to be impaired, so the Rainshaded should go extra carefully when crossing roads).
Rainshader has undergone wind tunnel tests up to speeds of gale force 7 and not been found wanting. It's also claimed that the umbrella is safer in electrical storms because it is made with fiber glass rather than steel ribs.
A prototype was developed with the help of the University of Warwick's WMG manufacturing center using 3D printing. It's available now from the Rainshader website for £24.99 (about $39). Its inventor hopes that the large visible surface area of the back will prove attractive to advertisers, particularly at outdoor sporting events.
Below you can see a video of Rainshader undergoing testing in a wind tunnel. You know you want to.