How the Nubrella Evolved into a Specialty Accessory for Photographers

Steven M. Johnson’s Armbrella might not be a real product, but the Nubrella is. When we first wrote about it nearly ten years ago, it was a relatively lightweight product and looked like this:

However, it’s now evolved into something considerably clunkier:

This is a good example of how great concepts can run into trouble once they hit the real world. In its latest evolution, the Nubrella is less of an accessory that you spontaneously grab while heading out the door, and more of a contraption that you must strap yourself into with premeditation.

Think of trying to climb into a taxi while wearing this, or of where you would store it up arriving at your office. And even though it can be temporarily retracted, imagine the drip trail it would leave behind you if you entered a store. Additionally, the coverage area doesn’t appear particularly effective. Here it looks less like something meant to keep your body dry and more like an oversized hat.

Does this mean the design is a failure? No, it just means that it’s too specialized for general consumer use. But as photography blog Shutterbug points out, one killer app for the Nubrella is for the outdoor photographer shooting in the rain.

There are plenty of products designed to keep cameras dry in a storm, but virtually nothing for the photographer him/herself. The Nubrella’s hands-free design is perfect for a shooter in inclement weather.

So, while the Nubrella is not well-suited for the general consumer use that was first envisioned, it has turned out to be a useful piece of specialty gear for an underserved market. There’s a lesson for design entrepreneurs in here.

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