Two geography students in London have come up with a way to give the city's old red phone boxes a new life. An iconic symbol of the English city, the phone boxes have fallen out of use as the majority of people now have cell phones. Many of the boxes have been discarded, but with the students' Solarbox project, many others will now be converted into free solar-powered charging stations for cell phones and other gadgets.
"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,'" co-founder Harold Craston told BBC News.
The project reinvents the phone boxes by painting them green and installing a 150-watt solar panel on top. Inside, the boxes have mini/micro-USB and iPhone chargers as well as a screen that runs advertisements while people charge their phones. The advertising pays for the booths so that the charging is free to the public.
The first of six charging kiosks were opened last week on Tottenham Court Road and the other five will be opened elsewhere in the city in April 2015. So far the box has seen about 85 customers a day, but each box will be able to handle 100 phone charges per day. The boxes will be open 5:30am - 11:30pm, 365 days a year and users can expect to get a 20 percent boost in their battery life in 10 minutes.
The team won the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award earlier this year and also won the LSE's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award for their idea.