Humans have been battling rain for as long as we’ve been around, and somehow the umbrella is the best option we’ve come up with for keeping (mostly) dry. There has to be a better solution, which Ivan Miranda has potentially created by throwing more technology at the problem.
Yes, umbrellas are cheap and collapse so they’re easy to carry, but they’re also fragile and prone to falling apart when confronted with the slightest breeze. And while they’re good for keeping the rain off your head, all that water dripping off the edge of the umbrella’s canopy usually ends up elsewhere on your body. Umbrellas are really nothing more than an over-engineered palm leaf, and for a species that’s successfully sent humans to the moon and robots to other planets, we’ve seemingly really given up on improving how we stay dry in the rain.
Not all of us, though. Ivan Miranda is a talented maker who shares their creations—which include everything from a 3D-printed tank they can actually climb inside and drive, to an all-terrain skateboard—on their YouTube channel. For their upgraded umbrella, Miranda skips the collapsible canopy idea altogether and instead focuses on creating a wearable device that manifests a disc of high-speed air over their head that deflects raindrops as they fall.
Watching their entire creative process is as entertaining as the final product. Their first attempts involved 3D-printing an impeller powered by an electric motor used for RC planes that would push air outwards and away from their head when the setup was mounted to a helmet. However, 3D printing is an imperfect process, resulting in unbalanced impellers that vibrated so violently it actually affected Miranda’s vision while the device was strapped to his head.
The eventual solution was to trade the 3D-printed impeller for a pre-built (and perfectly balanced) ducted fan assembly, which is often used to create RC planes with high-power jet engines. Air is sucked in through the ducted fan’s opening atop their head and directed down and outwards through a thin 360-degree exhaust slit. The powerful blast from the ducted fan does exactly what it was designed to do, creating a curtain of air all around Miranda that deflects falling water away (a garden hose was used for testing) but the solution does come with some trade-offs. Not only will everyone within a 10-foot radius of Miranda feel the exhaust and be pelted with deflected rain, but the turbine engine is incredibly loud when running at enough speed to keep the rain away. You’d get to where you were going dry, but instead of dealing with a wet umbrella when you got there, you’d be dealing with ringing in your ears and potential hearing loss.