This summer, residents and visitors to some of New York City’s more traveled areas will see strange sculptures that “look like a cross between a pogo stick and a helicopter.” The Street Charge is a phone charging station powered by three 15-watt solar panels and a lithium ion battery pack capable of storing up to 168 watt-hours of energy. It comes equipped with the appropriate connectors and ports, and can charge up to six phones at once. They are the result of a collaboration between AT&T, design firm Pensa, and solar energy system manufacturer Goal Zero.
Subscribe for counterintuitive, surprising, and impactful stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday
What’s the Big Idea?
When 2012’s Hurricane Sandy took out a large part of New York’s electricity grid, it wasn’t uncommon to see people sharing their available energy with others who needed to charge phones and computers. While it’s unlikely that the stations could power everyone’s phone in the event of another disaster, they at least offer a reliable off-grid source. Charging phones is free, but there are panels available for displaying ads. The stations could also be adapted to provide other services, such as map details and possibly night lighting.