Phone booths are somewhat of a cultural symbol of London, and that not only because of a 50-year old TV series about a mad man with a box. Since it would be a pity to throw them away, two entrepreneurs figured out that these would look great as solar powered charging stations.
Solarbox, as the project developed by Kirsty Kenney and Harold Craston is called, couldn’t have become a reality with Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. Of course, in order to repurpose something that’s on the public domain, the two London School of Economics (LSE) graduates would’ve needed some official permissions from the city hall, but that’s not it. Johnson organized the Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition, and Kenney and Craston are this year’s big winners, as they managed to get $8,000 in funding.
In an interview with the BBC, Creston explained how he came up with the idea of repurposing one of London’s emblems: “I lived next to a phone box in my second year at uni and walked past it every day. I thought, ‘There are 8,000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them.'”
The first Solarbox was unveiled yesterday on Tottenham Court Road in London, while the second one will be put in service in January. More such solar-powered green boxes will follow, and that can only be considered good news, especially since using them will be free of charge. That’s right, anyone with phones, tablets, cameras and other devices whose batteries are running low will be able to charge them using the Solarbox.
As Mayor Johnson pointed out, “In our modern world, where hardly any Londoner is complete without a raft of personal gizmos in hand, it’s about time our iconic boxes were update for the 21st Century, to be useful, more sustainable.” The boxes will be able to charge up to 100 phones a day, but I wonder exactly how they are planning to pull this one.
The green color of the repurposed phone booths makes sense, since it’s green energy that we’re talking about. However, after changing them from blue to red, it will take people a while to get used to the new color, especially the shade they went for is pretty strident.
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