Though many manufacturers put a lot of emphasis on how their smartphones offer "all-day battery life,” having your handset pass out on you is still a fairly common problem. London-based project Solarbox aims to help keep mobile phone users mobile by re-purposing the iconic red phone boxes for use as free, solar-powered quick charging stations.
Solarbox takes an unloved London phone box, gives it a new paint job and installs a 150-watt solar panel, adds some mini/micro-USB and iPhone chargers inside and opens it up to the public. The first six charging kiosks were opened on Wednesday in Tottenham Court Road, with 85 members of the public making use of them in a single day.
The team behind the project estimates that users will get around a 20 percent charge boost from a 12 minute visit. This is obviously dependent on the model of the device itself, as well as what apps the user is running, and it’s possible to get a bigger boost if the handset is switched to airplane mode.
The charging stations are free to use, with revenue for the project being provided by an integrated advertising system. While users are standing waiting for their device’s battery life to tick into the green, they’ll be treated to a range of short adverts on a built-in screen. The advertising screen, which is actually an iPad, is reinforced to protect against vandals, and the kiosks are locked at night.
Solarbox is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Kirsty Kenny and Harold Craston, who earned second place recognition for the project in the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Though there are currently only six boxes available for use, the team told Gizmag that Londoners can expect to see at least six more of the charging stations turn up in the city by the early part of next year.
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