For many people, the biggest concerns about camping at a music festival involve inclement weather and sub-standard plumbing. However, the last few years have seen Orange reminding us about a third problem: mobile phone charging.
Last year it revealed the ‘Sound Charge’ t-shirt that contained piezoelectric film, enabling sound waves to be converted into electrical charge. As you listened to a band, your phone could be recharging.
In 2010 we heard about the ‘Power Wellies’, which used the heat from your feet to recharge a phone. And before that there was a wristband for dance-recharging, along with a footpump-driven charger.
This year Vodafone has introduced its take on festival gadgetry with the Booster Brolly. It’s a prototype umbrella created in partnership with University College London to keep festivalgoers dry (or protected from the sun) whilst charging their phones.
The eco-friendly brolly has a number of flexible solar panels in the canopy. They’re connected to a USB port for recharging, whilst a built-in 3G signal booster offers benefits for anyone sheltering under the umbrella.
Dr Kenneth Tong, Lecturer in Electronic & Electrical Engineering at UCL, said “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 antenna concealed at the top of the umbrella’s central pole uses the same power source to obtain a low strength network signal. The in-built low noise booster then amplifies this signal, within a 1-metre radius of the canopy, allowing smartphone users around the Booster Brolly to make and receive calls, exchange text messages and even browse the Internet with maximum signal strength.”
The prototype Booster Brolly will be unveiled at the Isle of Wight Festival next week on 22nd June 2012.