By Jenny Xie
Imagine walking down the street and stumbling upon a glowing cube that looks like it came straight out of TRON. But what you see is not exactly from the future — it’s e-QBO, a modular invention of a group of Italian designers who have been searching for a better way to harness solar power for public spaces.
Born out of a collaboration between Romolo Stanco from design firm T°RED and energy research institution Ricerca Sistema Energetico, e-QBO is autonomous and off-grid, but integrated into the city through the services it provides. Installed on top of a wood and steel structure, custom-designed solar panels soak up sunlight during the day and store energy in battery packs of up to 90 kWh. The e-QBO can then power services like video-mapping installations, charging ports for mobile devices and electric vehicles, and WiFi. Customizable LED lights also offer public lighting.
The unit's design theoretically allows it to adapt to all sorts of urban conditions and needs. The base PV panels are 1 x 1 meter, but can easily be built up to cubes that are 3 x 3 meter, 6 x 6 meter, and so on. This means the e-QBO can just sit there like a power-generating rock or scale up to become an inhabitable space—a lounge, pop-up shop, or visitor information center, for example:
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