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So smart it's stupid
December 5, 2013 9:27 PM   Subscribe

Unbrella is everything bad about umbrellas, improved. Once you see its innovations (dry side out when closed, water repelled away from you as you close it, stands on its own) you'll wonder like I did why no one thought of this decades ago.

About the only bummer is the price, set at about $95, which is pretty steep.
posted by mathowie (53 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
About the only bummer is the price

Agreed- although one might lose far fewer umbrellas while out and about with that price tag attached...
posted by pjern at 9:39 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just realized by having all the folding wire parts on the outside, they won't get tangled in long hair when opening/closing the umbrella either.
posted by mathowie at 9:40 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I need this very much because I always end up poking myself in the eye with my umbrella whenever I go to close it.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:50 PM on December 5, 2013


Wow. Why didn't anyone think of this decades ago?
posted by a birds at 10:02 PM on December 5, 2013


The best unbrella is the one we use in the PNW.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:03 PM on December 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


The great side effect that was casually mentioned was that getting out of doors or cars is much easier without getting yourself or the indoors wet because of the way it opens. Brilliant idea.
posted by avinashv at 10:03 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Plus when you close your wet umbrella, you can fling the captured water at those normal umbrella users!
posted by meowzilla at 10:06 PM on December 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


With a conventional umbrella the wind getting underneath it and flipping it inside out is inconvenient and kind of makes you look like a jerk. With this design the support struts seem like they would break or become unusably bent.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:07 PM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some parts of it make sense--I do question whether there might not be some problem with the mechanical bits all being out and exposed to water constantly. I realize it's probably a better-quality one, but I've had umbrella mechanisms rust a bunch of times, and they tend to be less useful that way.
posted by Sequence at 10:13 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, came to say the same as Drjimmy.
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 PM on December 5, 2013


The water being on the outside of a closed umbrella isn't entirely a bug; it can be a feature. I imagine it would take this unbrella thing forever to dry if you put it away closed.
posted by gurple at 10:31 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


It would drip out, though, because it can be stood up to store.
posted by NoraReed at 10:36 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since it's designed to close upward, does that mean a gust of wind will invert it in a manner that encloses the user Venus Flytrap-style? 'Cause that would be hilarious.
posted by prinado at 10:49 PM on December 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


Not being able to fit it in my bag is an absolute deal breaker for me.
posted by shelleycat at 10:58 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait wait wait. Mathowie gets to make multiple posts a day? I am so envious.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:17 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cannot use as walking stick. 0/10. Would not buy.
posted by cthuljew at 11:17 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Windproof umbrellas use vents in the canopy, which I guess could be added to this one as well. As it is now this umbrella is probably most useful for users of public transit in places that don't get extreme wind.
posted by Harald74 at 11:40 PM on December 5, 2013


About the only bummer is the price, set at about $95, which is pretty steep.

Put a bird on it.
posted by phaedon at 1:30 AM on December 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, this is goodish, but much (most?) of the time, isn't a full-size umbrella carried like a walking stick or under your arm, not held over your head? In this mode, the cool thing about a normal umbrella is that it folds to a single solid point that you can lean on and even jab and stab with, whereas this reverse umbrella looks like it leaves lots of unsatisfying little dangly bits on the business end to just get caught on things. I'm not sure John Steed or Gene Kelly or Mary Poppins would carry an UnBrella.
posted by pracowity at 1:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not being able to fit it in my bag is an absolute deal breaker for me.

It feels like (in windy Dublin at least) our insistence that an umbrella is something that can fit in a bag is the reason most people go through four of them a year. The bins are full of their broken skeletons on gusty days. Do durable mini-umbrellas really exist, or are they all near-disposable?
posted by distorte at 2:08 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure John Steed or Gene Kelly or Mary Poppins would carry an UnBrella.

Yes, but they have so much style rain stays off them out of a vague sense of embarrassment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:33 AM on December 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I almost want to make one out of two brellas .
Keyword there is almost .
posted by epjr at 2:41 AM on December 6, 2013


Yes, the inversion in the wind problem is what I most need addressed. If I'm going to shell out that much I'm going with the unbreakable umbrella .
posted by K.P. at 3:01 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why anyone didnt think about it long time ago!
really something great
posted by ngsandy1618 at 3:01 AM on December 6, 2013


I want one so much.
posted by kyrademon at 3:15 AM on December 6, 2013


Since it's designed to close upward, does that mean a gust of wind will invert it in a manner that encloses the user Venus Flytrap-style? 'Cause that would be hilarious.

My initial reaction to the Unbrella was "oh, NEAT," but it took about two seconds for that to give way to a mental image of myself stumbling around downtown, hopelessly engulfed from the waist up by an umbrella. In my imagination the umbrella is purple and makes a horrible/satisfying GLOOMPH noise when it eats me.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:22 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also see the asymmetrical Senz umbrella, which is supposed to be wind-proof because of it's shape. No use for flinging water at people though.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:38 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


whereas this reverse umbrella looks like it leaves lots of unsatisfying little dangly bits on the business end to just get caught on things.

Thats why they have the built-in tie thingy. Making the stem long enough to have a decent point, for use as a walking stick or jabbing your opponents in the eye is trivial. My only complaint is that it requires more room than a regular umbrella to open, as the struts have to pass through a plane perpendicular to the stem.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:06 AM on December 6, 2013


It seems to me like the unbrella would be better in the wind than a normal umbrella. A strong gust that catches the underside is just going to force the unbrella to close as it normally does, whereas a regular umbrella gets bent out of shape because it is not designed to be folded that way. Sure it's annoying if the wind closes your unbrella but at least it's not broken and you can just open it again yourself.
posted by MUD at 4:17 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Very neat. I didn't see a patent on it in a quick search, so maybe there will be cheaper knockoffs, though there could be an unpublished pending patent application. BTW Japan is no stranger to umbrellas broken by wind.
posted by exogenous at 5:35 AM on December 6, 2013


I've always wondered if I would ever see the umbrella described by Susan Orlean in this New Yorker article in use. And wow, I just realized I've been wondering since 2008!
posted by armacy at 5:35 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It still takes up too much room when you're walking on the sidewalk and doesn't keep any part of you below the shoulders dry.

The only part of an umbrella that does not suck is not presently part of an umbrella.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:01 AM on December 6, 2013


I thought this would be a link to the Rain Shield.

There's a lot of innovative umbrella redesign going on out there!
posted by painquale at 6:02 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is clearly Pepsi Blue. Someone should open a MeTa post about this "mathowie" character.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:13 AM on December 6, 2013


painquale: I thought this would be a link to the Rain Shield.

Oh, now, that's amazing. Take my money!
posted by Rock Steady at 6:14 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone who has used an umbrella maybe 20 times in his life, I'll stick with the $9 one I bought at Ralph's a decade ago. There is a good chance I'll be using my umbrella this afternoon.

Also I have that Rihanna song stuck in my head. Thanks a lot mathowie.
posted by birdherder at 6:33 AM on December 6, 2013


As someone who has used an umbrella more times than I care to count since living in a semi-tropical climate... I'm going to keep a weather eye open for the cheap knock off of this 'new, improved' umbrella'. Thanks a lot, mathowie.
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:39 AM on December 6, 2013


This is genius. The exposed hardware will draw the water by surface tension to predictable locations as determined by the tilt of the unit.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:46 AM on December 6, 2013


The best umbrella is the one that you won't care about losing on the bus. I have this umbrella decorated with sunday comic strips that the previous owner of my house had gotten free with a newspaper subscription and I can't seem to lose that damn thing.
posted by octothorpe at 7:31 AM on December 6, 2013


I bought a folding umbrella in Beijing that folded up inside-out, such that the wet bits faced each other (third picture down here). Best of all worlds: you could tuck the wet umbrella under your arm while it was folded up. I was so sad when it finally broke.
posted by mgar at 7:36 AM on December 6, 2013


Do durable mini-umbrellas really exist, or are they all near-disposable?

It depends on how you define mini. I have a ridiculously expensive 12" folding umbrella, it costs $99, but it is built like a tank and I expect it'll last as long as I do. I think anything smaller than that, though, is likely to break sometime or other.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:43 AM on December 6, 2013


I hate umbrellas. For the very short walk from the parking garage(lot) to the office(store, restaurant), a hat will do nicely, or, more likely, I'll get damp and dry off in a few moments. I see way too may people flailing their umbrellas - hey, I want to keep both eyes, or pausing at the subway entrance to open them - nice traffic jam, consider moving out of the way. I do carry one in the car - I got as a door prize - for the occasional massive downpour, and they're essential for dog walking.
posted by theora55 at 8:04 AM on December 6, 2013


I'm simply going the Amazon.com route in designing a drone that will carry an umbrella.
posted by happyroach at 8:15 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't lose many items. When I can't find my keys, they're always somewhere unexpected in my apartment, etc., etc. But I'm awful with umbrellas. I go through 4-6 every fall, and again every spring depending on the weather. Half a dozen shitty $15 umbrellas works out to the same cost as this one awesome one, but I just couldn't ever trust myself to not leave it in any number of places. :(
posted by sparkletone at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2013


Sparkletone, I used to lose umbrellas constantly, and bought a brightly-colored one a couple years ago and have not lost it since. Well, I lose a lot of stuff, my brain doesn't work well with that sort of thing, but--having something that actually is different enough to make your brain start paying attention to where it is might actually help.
posted by Sequence at 10:18 AM on December 6, 2013


Didn't something like this (but with the inverted umbrella going into the handle, for neater storage) make it to the finals of American Inventor years ago? (Have any of the products from American Inventor actually made it to market?)
posted by Shmuel510 at 10:19 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do durable mini-umbrellas really exist, or are they all near-disposable?

I have a really cute grey with squirrels handbag-sized umbrella I bought at Accessorize a couple of years ago. It made it through two winters in Cork without being blown apart, although I don't know what the wind is like there compared to Dublin. We do have the bins filled with broken umbrellas thing and I do tend to hook a spare finger through the struts with my free hand to give extra stability, but it's been sturdy enough for something pretty small. I don't know if it will last this winter because I used to put it away still wet all the time and the joints are rusting, but twenty euros every third winter is acceptable to me and not what I'd call disposable exactly.
posted by shelleycat at 11:24 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pro tip: Shampoo with Rain-X.
posted by stltony at 11:30 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sparkletone, I used to lose umbrellas constantly, and bought a brightly-colored one a couple years ago and have not lost it since.

Hmm. I've had some green (not bright green, but not dark) ones, and a blue one or two. They're all gone now, but maybe something more obnoxious/differentiated like yellow would help? I'm not sure.
posted by sparkletone at 11:45 AM on December 6, 2013


I have a $35 Eddie Bauer umbrella with a lifetime warranty. In the four years or so I've had it, I've had to replace it twice—once after only a few weeks—but always at no charge to me. Usually it works fine, my first one lasted at least two years and my current one's at least a year old. It does suffer from the usual small-umbrella issues (doesn't actually help with keeping legs or bag or one shoulder dry). I carry it in my bag everywhere.
posted by chrominance at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2013


I bought a folding umbrella in Beijing that folded up inside-out, such that the wet bits faced each other (third picture down here). Best of all worlds: you could tuck the wet umbrella under your arm while it was folded up. I was so sad when it finally broke.

As far as I'm aware, all Chinese (probably even all Asian) umbrellas are folded so the dry side is exposed. I really don't understand why the ones they sell in Western countries (or maybe it's just NZ and Australia) fold with the wet side out.
posted by fallsauce at 4:03 PM on December 6, 2013


If the dry side was exposed as soon as I folded it or brought it out of my bag unfolded ready to open then both sides would be wet soon enough. Not to mention being shoved in my bag next to wet gloves and damp hat. My small umbrella has a cover that I shove it into, so I can keep the dry inside always dry and make the wet outside dry again very quickly. The downside is the rusting joints as I said earlier but at least I don't have to worry about getting out of the sudden rain shower to get the thing open in the first place.

The umbrella I bought in Japan works exactly the same as all the ones I or my family has bought in NZ, Aus, UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and, I think, France (dry side on the underneath which stays inside when you fold).
posted by shelleycat at 12:32 AM on December 7, 2013


I thought this would be a link to the Rain Shield.

Funny, I thought that was going to be a link to one of these.

See also Nubrella.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:58 PM on December 8, 2013


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