Festival season is well and truly upon us, and as anyone who has ever been to one knows, the festival presents some unique challenges.
Not just the likely rain and mud, along with potentially dodgy burgers (not to mention potentially dodgy bands), but those with a mobile can also suffer from the dreaded dead battery.
Solutions in the past have included wellington boots with an integrated spare power pack, but Vodafone has come up with an even more novel idea.
Namely, a Booster Brolly which is an umbrella that has solar panels sown into its surface, allowing the owner to recharge via the power of the sun (let’s just hope it’s around).
But the other benefit is the brolly also contains a system to boost signal strength, so when you’re in the middle of a muddy field in the back end of nowhere, you’re more likely to get a signal in the first place.
The umbrella actually uses a combination of a high gain antenna and low power signal repeater to catch radio waves from the Vodafone transmitter, then disperse them in a low intensity signal above the owner’s head.
This small “signal shower”, as Vodafone calls it, means not only can the umbrella connect the owner to the Voda network, but also other Vodafone customers around them. Handy indeed.
Dr Kenneth Tong is the brains behind the project, a lecturer in antennas and microwave technology at University College London.
Tong enthused: “We’ve put in all of this technology, but [the umbrella isn’t] 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.”
The prototype is now being tested, although when this will be available to punters isn’t clear.
The only potential downside, of course, is folks armed with brollies chatting away and obscuring your view of the stage (along with the piles of people waving flags, banners, beach balls and other inflatable nonsense).