A 2012 red dot award winner for design concept, Lin Min-Wei and Liu Li-Hsiang's Rain Shield could make carrying an umbrella 1) somewhat stylish and 2) more than an exercise in futility. Its shield-like construction uses a single curved steel wire and telescopic rod to create both overhead protection from water falling from the sky and, more importantly, lateral protection from water, mud, and motor oil tidal waved at your being from assholic buses and SUVs barreling through puddles. On top of its increased functionality, the Rain Shield's simpler design eliminates traditional umbrellas' pointy ends and sharp edges, as well as their propensity to blow inside out and make users look like poor saps that passersby sympathize with, but can't help but chuckle at. It also conquers portability, folding and compressing into a 7" diameter disc that tucks snugly into bags and purses. To collapse, just retract the telescopic pole, and swirl the shield surface inward.
The one Rain Shield downside I can see is that using it, like wearing a hood, largely eliminates peripheral vision, which I find highly unnerving. But maybe that's just because there are so many people out there who want a piece of me and I feel the slightest compromise in eyesight puts me at a huge disadvantage. Admittedly, anyone not as wanted by ex-girlfriends and the IRS may not see an umbrella side flap as a hindrance at all.
The Rain Shield is still a concept product, but its red dot accolades and seeming freedom from complex materials and fabrication processes are probably good indicators that Min-Wei and Li-Hsiang will ultimately proceed with manufacture and sales.
Muchas danke to Yanko Design.