London’s red phone booths are becoming green charging stations

Smartbox provides a quick and free battery charge for your smartphone or tablet

Although many manufacturers emphasize all-day battery life, watching your handset slip away to a measly 0% before the day’s end is still a common problem. In an effort to provide one of the world’s busiest cities with a carbon-neutral energy source, two graduates of the London School of Economics developed a solar-powered charging station for phones, tablets, and other devices.


Created by Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney, the Solarbox is a modern version of London’s iconic red telephone booths. With a fresh green paint job, they’re now being installed with 150-watt solar panels and are outfitted with USB and phone charging outlets. The first six kiosks were opened on October 1 in the Tottenham Court Road area, which is one of the city’s main shopping districts, and it was reported that 85 people used the charging stations in just a day. Because they’re capable of providing a 20% boost in about 12 minutes, the kiosks are quickly solving the well-known battery-life issue. Obviously this depends on the model of the device being used and what apps the user is running, but it is possible to get a bigger boost if the handset is switched to airplane mode. Better yet, stopping to charge your phone doesn’t cost a thing, because the kiosks are covered by an integrated advertising system. On the inside is an iPad with paid content that people can watch as they’re waiting for their phone to charge. To prevent theft, the booths are locked at night.


So how did Craston and Kenney start this brilliant project? The students were awarded £5,000 ($8,000) in this past summer’s 2014 Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition put on by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Though right now there are only six boxes available for use, London can expect to see at least six more of the charging stations early next year.

Story and images via Gizmag.

Written for Electronic Products.

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