Umbrella’s asymmetrical shape adapts to wind
Photo from www.commonswikimedia.org.
It’s raining – again. That makes three days in a row, an anomaly for those of us living in sunny California. Rain is not something we’re accustomed to, and there probably aren’t many of us who enter our homes through a mud porch lined with rain slickers, galoshes, and umbrellas. But just because we’re not experts when it comes to foul weather gear, it doesn’t mean we’re not as intrigued as the next guy by the latest in new gadgetry.
That’s why when Epic Mens heard about the groundbreaking Senz umbrella, we had to take a closer look. Who knew that thousands of years after its introduction, we’d still be attempting to perfect what seems to be such a simple idea. According to “The Gentlemen’s Guide to Umbrellas,” the invention of the umbrella dates back several millennia to ancient civilizations in Rome, Egypt, China and the Middle East where it was first used to protect the ruling classes from the sun. Later, it made its way into women’s wardrobes and assumed the dual purpose of shielding its owner from both the sun and rain. Apparently, it wasn’t until the 1750s that gentlemen began carrying umbrellas – ostensibly to protect themselves or their lady friends from the weather, but also as a handy weapon to repel street ruffians (think Colin Firth in Kingsman).
Today, most of us expect and hope our umbrellas will do just one thing - keep us dry in the rain. I say “hope” because we’ve all had that experience where just one gust of wind leaves us looking like a drowned rat clinging to a dripping mess of crumpled nylon and mangled aluminum spokes. Even more pathetic are those of us (fess up) who actually try to straighten the permanently crooked spokes and venture out into the fray again.
Enter the Senz umbrella, a lightweight, aerodynamically designed rain deflector made to withstand 70 mph winds without inverting. Per the company website, the vision for what The Cool List tech blog is now calling one of the top “20 amazing, creative and futuristic umbrellas” ever first surfaced on a college campus in the Netherlands. After a particularly soggy week in 2005, where he had fought and lost battles with not one, but three, temperamental canopies, Dutch engineering student Gerwin Hoogendoorn resolved to make a better umbrella. Armed with a prototype stitched together on his grandmother’s sewing machine, Hoogendoorn convinced college friends Gerard Kool and Philip Hess to join him in the new venture. A year later, the Senz (so named because it makes “sense”) umbrella was introduced to the marketplace via a huge media blitz that included TV and radio spots, print and online ads, and blogger testimonials. Within nine days, the initial production run of 10,000 had sold out, and the partners were on their way to certain success. In the years since, the Senz umbrella has won almost every major consumer design award possible, including Red Dot, iF, IDEA, Good Design, Observeur, and Dutch Design.
Photos from www.theforereport.blogspot.com and www.senz.com.
We’ve seen the before and after pictures, and if seeing were truly believing, we would have joined the multitudes of Senz fans at first glance. But we’re actually skeptics at heart, so we decided to learn more about the science behind the patented, innovative design. Not being physicists ourselves, the only online explanation we found that we could actually understand was a PowerPoint presentation developed by Alix and Nate at the Shorecrest School in St. Petersburg, Florida (thank you Alix and Nate). According to the two high school students, Bernoulli’s Principle states that a fluid moving at a higher velocity exerts a lower pressure than does a fluid moving at a lower velocity. The imbalance causes “lift,” which is why an umbrella inverts in the wind. The air on top of the umbrella is moving faster because it has to travel farther, while the air trapped underneath has little or no velocity. Consequently, the air underneath exerts greater pressure and pushes up to create “lift,” which in turn flips the umbrella canopy inside out.
OK, after reading Alix’s and Nate’s explanation (admittedly more than once), we felt like we finally understood why traditional round umbrellas flip inside out so easily, but we were still unclear as to why the Senz design was any different. Well, it turns out the Senz canopy is asymmetrical, shorter on one side than the other. And as the writers at The Cool List explain, “Like a windsock, the [Senz] umbrella moves its tail in the direction of the wind, adjusting to maintain its structure and keep you dry.” In other words, the Senz umbrella appears to float on the wind. The only catch is that the user must position his or her Senz umbrella so that the short side is always facing the wind.
This seems to be a small price to pay for avoiding a cold, wet dousing. But if you’re still not convinced, click here to check out the Senz umbrella for yourself at Epic Mens. We think you’ll be impressed. Available in two sizes and a wide range of designer colors and patterns, the Senz umbrella canopy is also water repellant and UV protected. And like other top-of-line umbrellas, the Senz foldable model opens and closes with the push of a button and collapses for easy portability. Apart from the fact that it really can keep you dry in a storm, it’s just like any other umbrella you’ve ever seen.