Man, has anything gone from necessary to essentially obsolete as fast as the urban telephone booth? One day, you have to wait in line to get a booth in a phone bank on Sixth Avenue; the next thing you know, everyone has a mobile phone glued to their ear and the average phone booth is neglected and disused and, eventually, stops working altogether.
And yet that infrastructure remains, while the infrastructure for emerging technologies -- such as charging stations for electric vehicles -- languishes. Telekom Austria (which, as the name suggests, is a telecommunications company based in, yes, Austria) is in the middle of rolling out what essentially transitions the emerging technology into the fading one by placing EV charging stations in their telephone booths.
The roll-out is a gradual one, with the conversion of 30 of the company's 13,500 booths in 2010. The models picked for conversion will be multimedia stations with access to on-street parking, and will be modified with multiple charge points. Best of all for EV drivers, during the testing phase all recharging will be gratis. Going forward during the commercial phase, drivers will be able to pay via SMS text messaging on their mobile phones, at physical pay boxes at the charging station or by using RFID-chipped cards.