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Unfolding soon: Vodafone’s signal-boosting, phone-charging umbrella

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You might not be James Bond, but you could be mistaken for him if you carry Vodafone’s Booster Brolly: The umbrella can charge a phone while also boosting cellular reception with the touch of a button. Vodafone(s vod) plans to offer the unique umbrella at various festivals this summer around the UK, according to Geek.

The Booster Brolly is the brainchild of Dr. Kenneth Tong a lecturer in antennas and microwave technology at University College London. In just six weeks, Tong was able to build a prototype umbrella based from his designs and concept ideas. A dozen two-volt solar panels are hand-stitched into the umbrella and it can charge a handset or light a small built-in “torch” or flashlight.

The folding struts of the umbrella are made from aluminum, to improve conductivity and a small, but high-gain antenna paired with a small signal repeater is incorporated as well. Thanks to a small clasp on the carbon fiber pole, you can clip your phone to the umbrella for a charge, improved signal and hands-free usage. No word on if there’s a built-in laser cutter like Bond has in his watch.

5 Responses to “Unfolding soon: Vodafone’s signal-boosting, phone-charging umbrella”

  1. Russell Bishop

    And then that gust of wind comes along whilst you’re at a wet festival and you lose your new expensive umbrella with phone attached!

  2. Probably just a niche item but I can see for outdoor activity in rural area with poor cell reception like nature parks and no power outlets. How many people go on a camping trip where they just beyond cellphone range? Probably not many but it could develop a loyal following among individuals who fall into this situation.

  3. Kostas Papahatzis

    I can understand the charging part, but I do not agree with the boost signal part.

    If this comes to market, the only way forward is to offer it as part of something else. For instance, if I buy a handset with the value of $100 or more, I get the umbrella for free. But I have some doubts on whether this will sell under a price tag, especially for signal boosting.

    Can you imagine paying extra just for getting a clearer signal? This is something that every network carrier must do to keep themselves working and retain their clients. It is their responsibility to make sure their signal covers the widest geographical span.

    As for the charging part, umbrellas are used for rainy days mostly, and there wouldn’t be much sun around when it rains, so…

  4. Corey Carroll

    This is actually a really good idea, IMO. I could see solar umbrellas carried about in sunny parts of the world to 1. avoid sun exposure and heat and 2. to charge electronic devices.