Vodafone Booster Brolly to keep you charged, connected and dry
Now this is what we call a converged device. Vodafone in the UK will sell solar recharging umbrellas at the Isle of Wight music festival this year, with antennas built into them to boost 3G signal strength for nearby phones.
The Booster Brolly is apparently able to recharge a phone in about three hours, with a USB port on the umbrella's handle to connect your phone to it. The power is derived from 12 solar panels, which are stitched to the umbrella's outer surface. Or, in the words of the umbrella's inventor, Dr Kenneth Tong:
The custom canopy has been fitted with 12 lightweight amorphous silicon triple-junction solar cells that have the ability to convert light into electricity through a series of highly sensitive photovoltaic semiconductors. The current generated is then transferred, via a voltage regulator, 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 signal-boosting antenna is located in the central pole of the brolly, taking power from the solar-charging unit, too. With charge, the booster can improve 3G reception for devices in a 1-metre radius. Prepare to make some new, close friends at the festival this year.