At the Isle of Wight Festival in the United Kingdom in June 2012, some of the people carrying umbrellas were beta testers for a new product: the Booster Brolly. Vodafone U.K., Berkshire, England, created a multitasking prototype with the University College London that works like an umbrella—and an eco-friendly mobile phone charger—and a wireless cell phone signal booster—and a solar collector—and, well, you get the idea. “We wanted to create a practical but high-tech innovation that could genuinely improve a festival goer’s experience,” said Danielle Crook, director of brand marketing at Vodaphone.
In the guise of a trusted and reliable British umbrella, the Booster Brolly conceals a canopy of flexible solar panels that generates current to a hands-free smart phone cradle and a micro antenna that wirelessly boosts a phone’s 3G signal. The Brolly has a durable carbon fiber skeleton housing the electrical circuitry and a double-layer wind and waterproof canopy that protects the user from rain and sun. The Booster Brolly works with a wide range of mobile devices, charging most smart phones in under three hours.