For his submission to the James Dyson Award, French design student Quentin Debaene decided to reinvent the umbrella for the year 2050.
Debaene cites four primary reasons for stripping away the fabric canopy on his "Airblow 2050" concept umbrella: the fabric gets wet, wet umbrellas create puddles of water when drying, umbrellas flip inside out under harsh wind and umbrellas can collide in public.
Instead, Debaene proposes a motorized umbrella that uses a miniaturized version of Dyson's Airblade technology to deflect rain directly overhead. Going off his concept renders, the cane-shaped umbrella has a telescoping design that brings up the motor. Once extended, a ring can be twisted to switch on the motor and create the "air dome."
The Airblow 2050 is a wishful design, but it appears a person will still get wet from rain hitting them at an angle. Also, what happens when people start using them as mini leaf blowers? That would be annoying or worse.
Still, as a concept, Debaene's design is ingenious and we love it. We doubt that shrinking the Airblade motor and optimizing it to fit into a narrow cylindrical umbrella handle can be done in 2013, so it's a good thing Debaene's drafting it as the umbrella for 2050. By then, we'll probably have shrink rays anyway.