Imagine this: you’re rocking out to your favorite band at a summer music festival. The tunes are great but you’re getting parched and want to see if you’ve got enough time to refill your water bottle between sets. You dig out your phone to check the time and realize it’s about to die. You’re miles from an electrical outlet…what to do?
Well, if you were lucky enough to be carrying the Booster Brolly hybrid umbrella concept by Vodafone, you’d be made in the shade–literally. Created in partnership with University College London (UCL), the umbrella features a series of flexible solar panels stitched into the canopy. The umbrella keeps you safe from the sun while the solar panels keep your smartphone juiced and ready. But that’s not all it can do.
In full sunlight the solar panels charge a battery that’s embedded in the handle. Power is accessed through a USB port also conveniently positioned on the handle. The electrical current generated from the panels also powers a micro-antenna, boosting a phone’s 3G signal wirelessly.
“The antenna concealed at the top of the umbrella’s central pole uses the same solar power source to obtain a low strength network signal,” said Dr Kenneth Tong PhD, Lecturer in Electronic & Electrical Engineering at UCL. “The built-in 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.” As if that weren’t enough magical technology packed into a single gadget, the Booster Brolly also boasts an LED flashlight for night time navigation and a ‘hands free’ smart phone cradle.
The Booster Brolly will be unveiled to the public at the Isle of Wight festival on June 22nd. If it goes well (and we can’t see how it won’t) it may become available commercially very soon.