Vodafone unveils high-tech Booster Brolly, signal boosting umbrella

By Lee Kaelin on June 15, 2012, 1:00 PM

UK network provider Vodafone has unveiled a new multi-purpose, signal boosting umbrella aimed at summer festival revelers that they say improves your phone signal, charges your phone, can be used as a torch and keeps you dry in the typical English weather festival-goers experience.

The multifunctional umbrella is the work of Kenneth Tong, of University College London and even includes solar cells knitted into the canopy fabric that provide all of the power for its functions, alongside additional aluminum struts that also act as antennas. Even given the impressive features (for an umbrella), it weighs in at just 800 grams.

"The Vodafone Booster Brolly uses a clever combination of high gain antenna and low power signal repeater to catch radio waves from a Vodafone transmitter, before dispersing a very low intensity signal, creating a small 'signal shower', just above users' heads," Vodafone said when speaking to the Inquirer.

It results in a stronger, more directed signal for its holder, and provides a signal boost to those around them as well. That is assuming you're a Vodafone customer of course, those on other UK networks are out of luck.

In its bid to become the Swiss Army knife of umbrellas, the Booster Brolly also has the ability to charge a mobile phone via USB, with the charging unit housed in the handle. It also has a torch, which will no doubt be ideal for those trying to locate their tent among hundreds of others in the dark.

"We've put in all of this technology but its not heavy, its 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," said the umbrellas creator, Kenneth Tong.

Vodafone's umbrella is still in the concept stage and its unclear when it will be available for purchase, or how much it will cost. What we do know is it will make its debut at next week's festival in the Isle of Wight, where Vodafone VIP customers will get a chance to test it out. 

User Comments: 11

Got something to say? Post a comment
TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Clever idea. Not sure how practical, but clever.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Can't wait to hear the cost of this thing knowing it's a Vodafone product.

ansh1993 said:

Wish this would come in India, There is Vodafone in India also . I would be glad to use a signal boosting umbrella while going out of the house ! Great innovation ...

doradhorror said:

And your cancer rates increase 10 fold

Mindwraith said:

And your cancer rates increase 10 fold

Especially if you believe in urban myths, those things are scary!

Renrew Renrew said:

If it doesn't include a lightning arrestor, your cancer worries will be the least of your problems.

Guest said:

nice would like that here in south africa

Tygerstrike said:

This looks like an Item that has multiple applications besides keeping the rain off you. With just a slight tweeking of its design, just invert the umbrella, you could have a cellphone booster that you can roll out on camping or hikeing trips. It will be interesting to see how far they go with this.

andy06shake said:

So does this change your phone from a power cell in the Umbrella? Or does it charge using the wireless signals? Kind of like the way subs used to charge there batteries using long gain antenne and elf waves.

Zoltan Head said:

Reminiscent of a trend when I was a lad (hey, wow man!) for pyramids made of card/styrofoam, which allegedly sharpened tomatos or ripened razors, if I remember correctly.

Probably works on the same principle.

Guest said:

If you think using an umbrella can cause cancer, think again.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.