Vodafone has unveiled a multi-purpose "Booster Brolly" that can charge mobile phones and boost 3G signals during music festivals.
The prototype umbrella created in partnership with University College London (UCL) has been designed to function as an eco-friendly mobile phone charger, powered by a series of flexible solar panels within the canopy.
The concept umbrella has been designed to function as an eco-friendly mobile phone charger, powered by a series of flexible solar panels within the canopy.
The electrical current generated from the panels also powers a micro antenna, boosting a phone’s 3G signal wirelessly.
“We wanted to create a practical but high tech innovation that could genuinely improve a festivalgoers experience,” said Danielle Crook, director of Brand Marketing at Vodafone.
“The concept Booster Brolly does just that by merging cutting edge technology with a trusted and reliable British umbrella.”
Vodafone will trial the gadget, which also boasts an LED torch for night time navigation and a ‘hands free’ smart phone cradle, at the Isle of Wight Festival next weekend.
The Booster Brolly is designed to work with a wide range of mobile devices, charging a smartphone battery in under three hours.
The design allows for one handset to charge through a USB port in the brolly handle, but other mobile phone users under the canopy can benefit from the umbrella's 3G wireless signal boosting functionality.
Underpinning the pioneering technology of the Booster Brolly is a durable carbon fibre skeleton, which houses the electrical circuitry and a double layer wind and waterproof canopy that protects festivalgoers from the worst the British weather can throw at them – whilst doubling as a sunshade during sunny times.
“The custom canopy has been fitted with 12 lightweight amorphous silicon triple junction solar cells that have the ability to convert light into electricity, through a series of highly sensitive photovoltaic semiconductors.
“The current generated is then transferred, via a voltage regulator, to the handle of the umbrella where it is stored safely in high capacity rechargeable batteries, or used to directly charge a mobile device through a USB port,” explained Dr Kenneth Tong PhD, Lecturer in Electronic & Electrical Engineering at UCL.
“The antenna concealed at the top of the umbrella’s central pole uses the same power source to obtain a low strength network signal.
“The in-built low noise booster then amplifies this signal, within a 1-metre radius of the canopy, allowing smartphone users around the Booster Brolly to make and receive calls, exchange text messages and even browse the Internet with maximum signal strength.”