Vodafone Booster Brolly: Revolutionary umbrella to enhance signal strength and charge your phone

This week's article on Vodafone's official blog looks like an April Fools' joke at first, as we're introduced to a wacky professor waving a golf umbrella around, talking about radio waves and ‘signal showers'.

But a closer look at the Vodafone Booster Brolly, currently in production before it becomes available to buy later this summer, reveals a rather interesting and potentially very useful product.

The umbrella sports an in-built antenna and recharge socket, meaning festival goers, or any country adventurers for that matter, will be able to maintain both signal and power on their phones however marooned in the rural wilderness they may be.

The technology integrated into the brolly by Dr Kenneth Tong comprises a high gain antenna fitted into the umbrella's top spike, which combines with a low power signal repeater to catch radio waves from Vodafone transmitters and disperse a low intensity "signal-shower" just above users' heads. This connects their phones to the network, and even boosts the signal of other Vodafone customers around them.

The handle encases a bounty of further mechanisms, with a booster circuit, a USB-charging circuit, a switch to turn on the signal booster, and a torch all packed into an impressively small component - the size of a postage stamp.

Tong and his team have also designed a phone-holding clasp on the main pole, painstakingly stitched solar panels onto every model, and constructed a set of struts made from aluminium rods for better conductivity. The engineers work through the night striving to increase the performance of the Booster Brolly, but Tong has relished the challenge.

"My father was a carpenter and I used to go along with him when he worked. He was always looking at projects and thinking, how can I make this work, how can I fit this in here - how can I build this? It's in my blood."

Incredibly, at 800g, the umbrella weighs about the same as a loaf of bread, and Tong is confident Vodafone is putting its name to a winning product. "We've put in all of this technology, 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."

Vodafone has not yet indicated when the brolly may be available, or its price, but does refer to it being used at festivals "this summer", so expect to hear more soon.