An inflatable air mattress can be a boon for any camping trip, days at the beach or even to provide occasional sleeping space for visitors.

But despite their obvious benefits of being compact and comfortable, air mattresses have one big flaw – the effort it takes to inflate them.

Electric pumps can be a reasonable solution, but they're heavy, noisy and inflate mattresses relatively slowly. They also require a source of power – usually from the mains or a car battery – which can be a problem in a field or at the beach.

Ryan Frayne, an inventor from Portland, Oregon, believes he's solved this particular problem with Windcatcher, an air mattress that can be fully inflated with just a few short breaths.

By harnessing some interesting properties of air pressure and fluid dynamics – properties I can't claim to fully understand – Windcatcher draws in around 10 times more air than the owner blows through its oversized air valve.

The result looks a lot like magic. Demonstration videos show Frayne unrolling the prototype mattress and fully inflating it with just five breaths, a process that takes around 20 seconds from start to finish. At this point the mattress appears noticeably limp, but roll the large air valve into the top of the mattress and the additional pressure plumps up the mattress to the kind of pressure you'd normally expect after 20 minutes of conventional blowing.

Deflating the mattress is equally impressive. The air valve detaches, allowing the entire mattress to collapse flat in a couple of seconds. Once you've seen it in action you'll wonder why air mattresses haven't always worked this way.

Frayne's invention is currently on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, where his aim was to raise the £30,000 or so he'd need to take Windcatcher to its first full production run. That target has already been smashed; halfway through his 30-day funding window, keen supporters have already pledged double the original target.

In addition to the Air Pad, as the mattress is officially known, Frayne has also developed a pillow-like Air Bag and has plans for a variety of other inflatable gadgets using this rapid-inflation technology. Inflatable tents and rescue equipment have already been mooted, but it's likely there are dozens of other applications for this clever technology.

If the idea of a rapidly inflating air mattress appeals to you then there's still time to get involved. Funding closes on June 13 and a pledge of around £66 will ensure you're one of the first to receive a Windcatcher when they go into production in August.

Twitter: @grant_gibson

Positives Quick to inflate, hygienic and a little bit magical.

Negatives Comparatively expensive.