Sometimes the best tech breakthroughs come as small modifications to existing things. Take the that went berserk on Kickstarter earlier this year, smashing its intended fundraising goal by over $13 million just by updating the age-old ice chest.
Now, two Italian entrepreneurs have just launched their own Kickstarter campaign to improve on another everyday summer item that's somehow been neglected by progress -- the beach umbrella.
They've come up with a simple improvement on the shade-bringer that incorporates a drilling action into the bottom half. All you do is stick it in the sand, press the button and it rotors itself right into the beach. Then you stick the top half of the umbrella in and you're good to enjoy the beach without getting blasted by the sun -- or having your umbrella go airborne at the slightest breeze. When it's time to go, just push the button again and the motor reverses the action to free your umbrella from the sand.
Sure, there are those corkscrew hand-crank things you can use to drill sand holes for your beach umbrella, but I've never found them to be all that effective -- mostly because I don't drill straight down and my wobbling, fumbling attempts just make the hole too big. DrillBeach offers precision sand drilling at its best.
Plus there's another bonus -- the umbrella pole also doubles as a device to charge your USB devices.
I asked the inventors -- Nicolo Bonomo and Fabrizio Beretta -- to give me a bit more information about charging times. They say there are two lithium ion batteries that would each take about four hours to reach a full charge from a home power outlet (and yes, US plugs will be available). After that, one of the batteries powers the drilling action, and should last for about 30 insertions into the sand. The other powers the USB port and should last for "at least four iPhone recharges."
As cool as a self-drilling beach umbrella is, one of the other things you have to love about this fundraising page is that the humor of the two inventors really shines through.
There are jokes all over the page about the quality of their English, and a "making of" video at the bottom of the page shows them struggling with their scripts, including a flub that turns the DrillBeach into -- well, let's just say it's something that rhymes with "beach." Plus, there's the reward at the $15 level: "a funny personalized picture of a sexy Italian boy or girl with your name written on their body relaxing under our fabulous beach umbrella!"
As appealing as that reward might be, you'll have to up your cash contribution to $49 (about £31, AU$59) to snag one of the umbrellas, which are available in four different colors. Shipping is available worldwide for fees ranging from $15-40, and the umbrellas are expected to deliver in February 2015, if the duo is successful in hitting their target of $50,000.