London's famous telephone booths are more of a tourist attraction than anything else now that mobile phones are commonplace, but that doesn't mean they're completely useless. One booth has already been transformed into solar-powered mobile charging station, and six more are on the way.
Solarbox, as the revamped booth is called, lets people top off their iPhones, Androids, and all of the other gadgets that rendered the original red boxes obsolete. It uses solar panels to generate power, and can charge up to 100 phones a day.
The first Solarbox is located on Tottenham Court Road, in London's busy shopping district. Anyone can use it for free, though there are ads that play as you juice up your phone. Solarbox was created by two former London School of Economics students, Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenny.
"I lived next to a phone box in my second year at uni and walked past it every day. I thought, 'There are 8000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them,'" Craston told the BBC.
Some of the UK's phone booths have been transformed in other ways, getting outfitted with medical equipment or being turned into little libraries. In New York, there's a plan to turn 7000 phone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots (NYC is also fiddling around with solar-powered charging stations).
This project is another good example of how to retrofit outdated amenities, and how to save the iconic booths without letting them rust away unused. [Reuters]