Umbrellas are decidedly low-tech devices. They really serve only to keep our gadgets, and heads, dry. Unfortunately, holding an umbrella usually precludes the use of said gadgets, but Brollytime, a company based in Chicago, has come up with an innovation to change that.
Confronting the timeless issue of the poor umbrella design, the company created Brolly, an umbrella with a handle that has an ergonomic, four-finger grip. It turns out that the handle is perfect for smartphones and cameras because it frees your thumb from holding the umbrella. Now you can avoid that awkward position of tucking an umbrella handle under your chin to take a picture or shoot off a text.
The Brolly, which takes its name from the informal British term for umbrella, is available on the company's Web site for $20. It's compact and easy to fold and store. The handle, which is a combination of plastic and rubber, is strong but comfortable. I could easily hold the umbrella over my head while texting in the rain.
But I wish the rest of the umbrella were designed as well as the grip. The Brolly looks as cheap as those $5 umbrellas that vendors start hawking as soon the sky turns gray. I have a feeling the Brolly would not last through a gusty New York storm and would end up among the other twisted creatures of bent spines and torn fabric that are left in trash cans and gutters after a heavy rain.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.