The public payphone may not be the necessity it once was, but a billion plus people now rely on cell phones for almost everything. Regularly spotted in every major city are poor souls visibly hurled into anxious confusion when a phone battery dies at an inopportune moment. London School of Economics students Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney have provided a solution: an award-winning idea that will bring the iconic red phone boxes of London back to life in a way other cities could too.

Craston and Kenney created a green, retrofitted red phone box with a solar-powered charging station for most popular cell phone models called the Solarbox. The first green Solarbox can be seen in central London's Tottenham Court Road. The solar panel affixed to the booth is capable of charging around 100 devices per day at no cost to its users. The sustainable power sources pay for themselves in a few months through advertising and require very little maintenance once installed.

In addition to the more obvious benefits of repurposing the spaces in a sustainable way, these charging stations offer a new way for people in big cities to interact. Instead of making conversation waiting for the cup to fill at the water cooler, people might finally look up from their cell phones and talk to one another while waiting for them to charge.

To think, in-person conversations started by charging a cell phone.

Read more about the Solarbox on Koco.