Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Unused Phone Boxes Getting New Lease of Life

There is only one thing in London that has achieved the same iconic status as the red double-decker bus: the red phone box.  Unfortunately, mobile phones have made London's thousands of red phone boxes obsolete.  So much so that city officials are begging for ideas for re-purposing them.

How about using them as charging stations for the very mobile phones that have rendered them useless?  That's a good idea, according to entrepreneurs Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenny.  Craston and Kenny recently unveiled five new green boxes that can be used to recharge a mobile phone at zero cost.

The new green boxes are fitted with multiple charging stations to handle the most popular phones.  Their power comes from 86cm solar panels fitted on the roofs of the boxes.  The panels can create enough electricity to keep the charging stations working all day, providing a 20% charge in about 10 minutes.

Craston and Kenny are funding their enterprise through adverts.  Each box is fitted with a video screen showing fun and interesting adverts from companies that have signed up.  Among the current advertisers are well-known companies such as Tender and Uber.   Craston and Kenny say that 30% of the advertising space is set aside for community projects.

In order to deter theft, the screens are reinforced and the phone boxes are locked at night.  They will be open during regular business hours and during the daylight hours on weekends.  Craston and Kenny plan to open an additional five boxes sometime next year.

Award Winning Idea

Craston and Kenny are to be commended for their ingenious idea.  Not only does its meet a growing need among Londoners for mobile phone charging, it also re-purposes old phone boxes and does so in an environmentally responsible way.  The official business, known as Solarbox, was the winner of this year's LSE Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award.  It also took second place in the running for the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Thus far, the green boxes attract roughly six users per hour.  Moreover, with the ability to charge up to 100 phones per day, Solarbox is a great example of a unique idea and then has realised commercial success because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of two innovative thinkers.

These are the types of ideas we need in the UK to continue maintaining our position as a leader in technology and green initiatives.  It is such a simple idea, yet one that is quite powerful in the grand scheme of things.  Just think about the impact the green phone boxes will have once Solarbox has hundreds of locations opened throughout London.b Every mobile phone recharged by solar power is one less phone being plugged into a wall socket.  We may get to the point where one of the most exciting events of the day will be going out to the street to charge the phone.  Imagine that!

Source:  BBC Technology News – http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29455992

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