London's Red Phone Boxes Go Green
Some of London's iconic red telephone booths are literally going green.
Passersby can now juice up their mobile device in a Tottenham Court Road booth that has been painted green and turned into a solarbox. It went live on Wednesday morning, and is the first of six expected in the capital city.
The next five boxes will be rolled out around London by April 2015, according to the BBC.
Just pop into the updated box, which sports an 86cm solar panel on the roof, and plug in your smartphone or tablet; the free service, of course, comes with advertisements while you wait.
The team's Twitter account tips early funding from electronics conglomerate Siemens, U.K. charity UnLtd–The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)—the alma mater of co-founders Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney (pictured, below).
The geography students-cum-entrepreneurs told the BBC that they were interested in refurbishing public spaces for use in modern society. And the thousands of empty red phone boxes were a perfect place to start.
'I lived next to a phone box in my second year at [university] and walked past it every day,' Craston told the news site. 'I thought, 'There are 8,000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them.''
The solarbox, which is open from 5:30am - 11:30pm daily, can charge up to 100 phones per day, BBC said. In a hurry? Ten minutes will give you a 20 percent battery boost.
'On launch day, my phone ran out of battery and I genuinely had to use the box,' co-founder Craston said.
Craston and Kenney's invention took home the second-place prize and £5,000 in the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award earlier this year, and won LSE's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award —an additional prize created for the solarbox designers.
Capital will be based on the in-kiosk advertising platform, which has already locked down partnerships with Uber and Tinder. A third of the commercial space is reserved for community projects and short films.
Solarbox did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
In New York, officials are also looking for ways to make use of aging payphones. Some have been converted into Wi-Fi hotspots, while the city hosted a design challenge last year to solicit ideas for how best to convert payphones into more useful city services.