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Vodafone Booster Brolly prototype unfurled

Vodafone has announced that it is to trial a prototype device to keep gadget fans dry and happy during festival season: an umbrella with integrated solar power and mobile signal boosting capabilities.

The Vodafone Booster Brolly, designed by Kenneth Tong, is a real multi-function device. At its most basic, it's a bright red Vodafone-branded umbrella, designed to keep festival-goers dry during the inevitable downpours that come with the British outdoor music scene - although Vodafone, somewhat hopefully, points out that it also doubles as a sun shade should the weather improve.

On its surface, however, are multiple solar-panels which harvest even the slightest glimmer of natural or artificial light to keep gadgets ticking over. According to Vodafone, a smartphone connected to the Booster Brolly will fully charge in under three hours.

The truly impressive feature of the Booster Brolly comes in the former part of its name: as well as powering connected mobile gadgets, the solar panels are used to run a 3G mobile signal booster antenna. The result: improved mobile phone coverage, and faster mobile broadband - even in the middle of a field.

The design, created by Kenneth Tong and a team at University College London, weighs just 800g. "We've put in all of this technology", Tong boasted of his team's design, "but it's not heavy, it's 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 Vodafone Booster Brolly is to be trialled at the Isle of Wight festival by Vodafone VIP members.

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