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This pillow with a retractable umbrella is the wacky new beach accessory you never knew you needed

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Humanity can proudly lay claim to at least a few ingenious inventions.

For instance, the wheel, electricity and Netflix’s ‘Skip Intro’ feature are probably mankind’s top three greatest hits.

But we’ve also come up with some that we still don’t know what to make of.

New Barbecue Shapes flavours almost led to civil war in Australia, crocs are an affront to us all, and I’m trying to figure out how the Shake Weight ever became a thing:

But the world isn’t so black and white, and sometimes you stumble across creations that you simply don’t appreciate for their genius when you first come across them.

Like this little-known invention, imaginatively titled ‘Pillow With Retractable Umbrella’:

The diagram from the original patent (United States Patent 6711769)

As the name suggests, it’s quite literally just a pillow with a fold-up umbrella attached to it that comes in its very own carry-case.

The patent (yes, someone actually took out a patent for this) describes it as:

A pillow with a retractable umbrella, comprising a pillow assembly with first and second ends. The first and second ends have a channel extending therebetween. Fixedly secured onto the first end of the pillow assembly is a supporting assembly with third and fourth ends.

The supporting assembly has a cavity between the third and fourth ends to store items within, and has a removable end-cap to access the cavity. Extending from the supporting assembly is an umbrella assembly.

The umbrella assembly lying within the channel in a stored position. The instant invention having rotating and swivel means for positioning the umbrella assembly while in an erect position. The invention may be stored in a case for easy carrying and in an open position, allows a user to lay his/her head on the pillow while covering their face from sunlight.

On the one hand, one of the most challenging things about going to the beach is trying to chill out and avoiding the full glare of the sun.

So now not only do you have some valuable neck support, you don’t have to slowly suffocate while your t-shirt’s awkwardly draped over your face.

And look, yes, it does look just a tad silly, and I’m not fully convinced image-conscious millennials will be flocking to buy it. But they probably should!

It’s super important to find shade when UV is at its peak, and this is especially crucial when you’re at the beach.

Not only are you copping the UV from the sun, the sand and water both reflect UV light – so you’re getting a double whammy serve of the bad stuff.

You can head over to the Bureau of Meteorology to find out what time peak UV will be at (usually in the late morning/early arvo).

Given Australia has the second highest skin cancer rate (after New Zealand), it’s high time we started getting out of the sun a bit more instead of seeking it out.

That doesn’t mean you have to go to the effort of fashioning yourself an elaborate, Frankensteinesque, pillow/umbrella contraption, it can be something as simple as chilling out under a nice big tree.

It’s also a great excuse to go and treat yourself to a cupla cheeky scoops of ice-cream:

“Let’s get out of the sun, it’s getting pretty hot..”

*Not even ten seconds pass*

“Hey look! An ice-cream store, what a stunning and definitely not pre-planned coincidence!”

You too should cover up this summer. Wearing hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, using SPF30+ sunscreen and finding shade when UV radiation is at its peak are all smart ways to avoid sunburn. And seriously, who wants to be lobster red while everyone else is outside having fun? As our friends at Pretty Shady say: ‘Be part of the generation that stops skin cancer, one summer at a time’.

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