The glorious reign of the red telephone box is at an end. We no longer depend on the ubiquity of the iconic payphones now that mobile and internet technologies have delivered us the smartphone.
But our dependency on our smartphones is rocketing; 70% of new phones purchased are smartphones, and smartphone addiction is a well-documented phenomenon.
The only problem? The shoddy battery life.
But an enterprising duo from London has found a way to marry the visual appeal of the telephone box with the demands of a nation of smartphone fans. The solution? To put a solar panel on the roof of the unused phone boxes, paint them green, and turn them into phone battery charging stations.
The green phone boxes will be free to use, and in exchange, users will be exposed to adverts while charging their devices.
The scheme, known as Solarbox, was devised by London School of Economics geography graduates Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney.
Their idea has won the support of London mayor Boris Johnson, and the first Solarbox was unveiled today at Tottenham Court Road near the Dominion Theatre.
Photos of the green phone box have already been published on Twitter.
— Mark Burnett (@burnettoslo) October 1, 2014
Six more boxes are planned for next year, the Evening Standard reports.
Kenney said: “We’ve all been caught out – phone battery life just can’t keep up with the pace of our modern lives. By using solar power and re-purposing old phone boxes we have been able to provide a real solution in an environmentally friendly way.
Craston said to the Standard: “Surely these one square metre spaces are worth more than a toilet or to get a prostitute’s phone number. Every tourist has a picture of one. They are something we’re so proud of but don’t have any respect for at all in terms of its use. They’re so symbolic as a structure but we don’t have a use for them.”
Boris Johnson said: “As London’s low carbon economy grows, it’s new start-ups like this, with our funding and support, that are keeping London at the forefront of future technology.”