We live in fast-moving times, and when I think about areas like communication, healthcare and transportation I am amazed by the pace of improvement due to innovation and technology development.

There are some things, though, that seem to lag behind considerably.

Take the umbrella for instance. We’ve had rain as long as the planet has had an atmosphere, yet the humble umbrella has barely evolved from its primitive instrumental ancestor.

It opens, it closes, it has a handle, it can double as a walking stick or a handy prop for 1950’s musicals.

Surely in the 21st century there is no device more prevalent, more fundamental and yet more worthy of a makeover?