10 Strange and Wonderful Umbrellas

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Umbrellas are utilitarian objects that most of us have -unless we don't. A wise woman (or man, maybe) once said you need three umbrellas: one to forget at home, one to leave on the train, one to leave at the restaurant. If you are the kind of person who can keep up with an umbrella, you should treat yourself to a distinctive and memorable accessory.

1. Nubrella

The Nubrella is a hands-free umbrella design that covers your entire head and shoulders. Attached shoulder straps rest on your shoulders and hold it in place. I can't decide whether it looks more like a B-movie space helmet or an insect eating your head. The upside is that it won't blow away in the wind, won't poke other people, and you can use both hands to carry stuff or use your phone. Not that you need two hands to use your phone, but you know what I mean.

2. Cloud Umbrella

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Dutch designer Joonsoo Kim created the Cloud Umbrella, which is a mere stick until you need it. Then you'll have to blow it up! Yes, it's an inflatable umbrella.

3. Samurai Umbrella

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The Samurai Umbrella comes with its own nylon scabbard and shoulder strap, so you can carry it just like a samurai would carry a sword. When the rain comes, grab it by it's authentic-looking samurai sword hilt and open it with a dramatic gesture!

4. Big Umbrella

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The Big Umbrella is an art project by Aleksandra Mir. The umbrella is big enough to cover 16 people at once, if they are willing. Mir took the brolly on a tour of Paris, London, Dresden, Copenhagen, New York and Martinique to see how people would react to it. The receptions were varied.

5. Manta Ray Parasol

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Manta rays kind of look like umbrellas, don't they? If they didn't before, they do now! The Manta Ray Parasol was designed with the sea creature in mind. This is a furniture parasol for sun shade, much too big to carry around in the rain.

6. UFO Cap Umbrella

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It's a rain cap! No, It's an umbrella! No, it's both! The advantages of the UFO Cap Umbrella design is that it doesn't have a handle, so you can fold it up and keep it in your purse or backpack. Since your head holds it up, both of your hands are free. The downside is the multitude of people who will point and laugh at you.

7. LED Umbrella

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This umbrella is straight out of the movie Blade Runner. And who couldn't use a little extra light when it's gloomy and wet? The shaft is lit by LEDs powered by 3 AAA batteries. Can double as a light saber, or even a flashlight.

8. Squirt Gun

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Even more fun than pretending your umbrella is a samurai sword or a light saber, this umbrella is a real working weapon! When deployed, rainwater is funneled down the shaft and into a squirt gun. For your own safety, you might want to limit your targets to people who are already wet.

9. Pileus

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Possibly because of the many things as you can do with an umbrella shaft, we haven't looked at the possibilities of the canopy. In this case, it makes a dandy projection screen! Pileus is the name given to the internet umbrella, a concept umbrella with which you can take and share photographs.

The current prototype has two main functions: photo-sharing and 3D map navigation. The photo-sharing function is connected to Flickr, then a user can share their finding (e.g. new shops, beautiful scenes) in a city with his/her friends taking a picture by the camera. The screen also shows beautiful photo-streams retrieved from shared-pictures in a Flickr community. The photo-function is operated by a simple action on the umbrella with a motion sensor without any complicated operations.

10. Pet Umbrella

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You must walk the dog, even when the rain is falling. Protect your pooch with the Snoozer Pet Umbrella It has a bendable shaft that hooks to your dog's collar, and a leash attached to the top of the canopy. The product goes by Pet Umbrella, but we all know you're not going to get a cat to walk in the rain, much less use an umbrella.

See also: The mental_floss Lunchtime Quiz on Umbrellas.

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September 17, 2009 - 4:31am
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