British telecom giants Vodafone is set to introduce their concept umbrella charger this summer at a series of VIP events in the UK. The Booster Brolly umbrella charger will power up your smartphone all whilst sheltering you from a storm.
The Booster Brolly was developed by Dr. Kenneth Tong, a lecturer in antennas and microwave technology at University College. Tong’s work focuses on improving the performance of mobile phone antennas when held in different positions by automatically aligning them with multi-directional signals. His research led Tong and a team of PhD students to develop the Booster Brolly umbrella charger for Vodafone.
The Booster Brolly uses a combination of a high-gain antenna (in the umbrella spike) and a low-power signal repeater (underneath the canopy) to catch radio waves from a Vodafone transmitter. It then disperses a very low-intensity signal that creates a small “signal shower” above the user’s head. The Booster Brolly not only connects phones to a network, but it can also boost the signal of other Vodafone customers in the vicinity.
After working out the kinks of various prototypes, Tong’s team settled on a design that incorporates a dozen flexible two-volt solar panels into the canopy of the umbrella charger. The power obtained from these hand-sewn panels can then be used to power up your smartphone, which has a docking mechanism attached to the umbrella arm.
However, the real control center is the handle of the Booster Brolly, which conceals a booster circuit, a USB-charging circuit, a switch to turn on the signal booster, as well as a flashlight. This is all packaged in an umbrella that weighs about the same as a loaf of bread.
“We’ve put in all of this technology,” says Tong, “but it’s not heavy. It’s not big — and it looks good. In fact, it’s a bit of a James Bond umbrella — you can’t tell what it does from the outside.”
The Vodafone Booster Brolly was developed in conjunction with Vodafone VIP, a series of events sponsored by the telecom as a way to thank their customers. There is no word on price or a broader sale of the umbrella charger just yet, but keep an eye out, as this will likely go to market very soon.
Hmmm I wonder for how much they will charge it for retail sale?