Disused phone boxes in London are being put to a novel use - as solar-powered charging stations for mobile phones. Many of the UK's red telephone boxes have largely fallen into disuse although some are being revived as libraries or being fitted with medical equipment.
The first box was unveiled on Tottenham Court Road this week. Five more boxes will be rolled out by April 2015. The solarbox can charge up to 100 phones a day, offering a 20% battery boost in 10 minutes. The service is free to use although users will be shown adverts as they wait for their phone to charge.
The boxes have had a makeover for the project - painted green and fitted with a roof-mounted 86cm solar panel. Inside there are a variety of charging stations for different models of phone and a screen which shows adverts. The advertising screen is reinforced to deter vandals and the boxes are maintained daily and locked overnight.
The project was the brainchild of two geography students turned entrepreneurs, Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenny. Both studied at the London School of Economics (LSE) and were interested in finding new ways to use public spaces.
"I lived next to a phone box in my second year at uni and walked past it every day. I thought, 'There are 8,000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them,'" explained Mr Craston.
Running out of battery is a perennial problem for smartphone users as they become ever more powerful without an equivalent technology leap in battery life. Since launch, about six people per hour use the booth, according to the founder. "On launch day, my phone ran out of battery and I genuinely had to use the box," said Mr Craston.
Solarbox won second place in the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award earlier this year and also won the LSE's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Funded by advertising, the founders are keen to make sure users are engaged by "short, fun and exciting ads showing exclusive content". Firms signed up include Tinder and Uber, and 30% of advertising space is reserved for community projects.
Question 1 (2 points) Indicate whether the following statements are true or false and write down which part of the text justifies your answer.
a. You don’t have to spend any money to charge your mobile.
b. You can use the new boxes at any time.
c. Mobiles have evolved faster than the batteries they use.
d. The new boxes have been used by Mr Carston from the very beginning.
Question 2 (2 points) Answer the following questions in your own words.
a. How will the boxes be taken care of?
b. How was the idea started?
Question 3 (1.5 points) Find words or phrases in the text that correspond in meaning to the words and definitions given.
a. new (paragraph 1)
b. transformation (paragraph 3)
c. creation, invention (paragraph 4)
d. use up, exhaust, finish up (paragraph 6)
e. financed, paid (paragraph 8)
Question 4 (1.5 points) Complete the following sentences without changing the meaning.
a. Disused phone boxes are being put to a novel use.
b. Mr Craston had this brilliant idea because he walked past a phone box every day.
c. “There are 8,000 of these phone boxes lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them” Mr Carston said.
Mr Carston said that…
Question 5 (3 points) Write a short essay (120-150 words) on the following topic:
Advantages and disadvantages of having a smartphone.