e-QBO looks like Tron escaped from The Borg just to charge your phone

e-QBOIf you spot something that looks like it has been left by either The Borg or Tron in the middle of your city, don’t panic as it might be there just to charge your smartphone.

Italian design firm T°RED, in collaboration with the energy research institution Ricerca Sistema Energetico, created e-QBO. This customisable, modular cube collects energy from the sun in order to provide power in public spaces.

During the day, the panels soak up sunlight and store energy in battery packs, which can then be used by anyone to charge electronic devices. Not only that, these cubes can dish out Wi-Fi too.

The design is essentially a square made from wood and steel with solar panels and LED lights on the exterior. The clever biut is that it can be expanded or shrunk depending on how many solar panels are used to make it.

Each photovoltaic panel is one square meter, so the block can be made small enough for people to sit on, or large enough to become an inhabitable space.

e-QBO sizesThis goes beyond the idea of slapping solar panels on to existing structures as the e-QBO creates a new public space whilst powering its surroundings.

Apparently it doesn’t take a lot of effort to erect a e-QBO which means that you could potentially have one installed specially for an event and then dismantle it and move the e-QBO to another venue.

With a 5 x 5 cube costing $150,000, it might be a bit steep for one-time use, but cities could invest in one and move it from place to place depending on the particular needs of various areas. Perhaps there’s a festival happening in one area one month, and then an exhibition in another the following month.

Since the first e-QBO prototype was built last year, T°RED has installed others in various locations like Piazza San Fedele in Milan and an archaeological site in Sicily.

The design got a lot of attention at last month’s World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, and the Italian city of Piacenza has ordered an e-QBO to potentially use as an information hub for its Expo 2015.

T°RED is currently in talks with a tourist resort in Lebanon to develop an even larger version of e-QBO, with internal space of up to 200 square meters.

Where would you want to put one?

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