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The ‘James Bond’ umbrella that uses solar cells to charge your phone and boost its signal

British mobile phone giant Vodafone has just unveiled a special umbrella aimed primarily at festival-goers. Called the Booster Brolly, the eco-friendly concept device charges your handset battery, boosts the device’s signal and, of course, keeps you dry in the event of a downpour.

Designed by Dr Kenneth Tong of University College London, the unique umbrella also features an LED torch for night-time navigation and a hands-free cellphone cradle. A USB port for connecting your phone or mobile device is located in the umbrella’s handle.

The Booster Brolly’s power is generated through its special canopy which incorporates a number of flexible solar panels, enabling it to fully charge a phone in less than three hours.

“The custom canopy has been fitted with 12 lightweight….solar cells that have the ability to convert light into electricity,” Tong explained. “The current generated is then transferred….to the handle of the umbrella where it is stored safely in high capacity rechargeable batteries, or used to directly charge a mobile device through a USB port.”

The electrical current generated from the panels also works to power a micro-antenna on top of the umbrella capable of boosting a handset’s 3G signal wirelessly. In fact, Vodafone claims that anyone standing close to the umbrella will receive a boost (to their phone signal, that is).

Danielle Crook, Vodafone’s director of brand marketing, said: “We wanted to create a practical but high-tech innovation that could genuinely improve a festival-goer’s experience. The concept Booster Brolly does just that by merging cutting-edge technology with a trusted and reliable British umbrella.”

Kenneth Tong is evidently excited about his creation: “We’ve put in all of this technology, but it’s not heavy, it’s not big – and it looks good.” he said. “In fact, it’s a bit of a James Bond umbrella – you can’t tell what it does from the outside.”

The Booster Brolly could certainly prove popular when it’s introduced to music fans at the Isle of Wight festival in southern England next week. All Vodafone needs to do now is commercialize it.

[via engadget]