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Renew pods provide news, information, and recycling bins to London's commuters

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Renew's connected pods have launched at 25 locations in the City of London.

Renew recycling pod
Renew recycling pod

City of London commuters are likely to notice something new on their trek to the workplace: Renew has recently deployed 25 of its futuristic on-street pods throughout the city. In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, let's backtrack a bit. In development for more than six years, the Renew unit has dual functionality: apart from serving as a recycling depository, the pods are also a connected hub with LCDs on both the front and back offering passersby the latest in financial headlines and world news. Updates to mass transit scheduling are also provided, with additional content pulled down from a variety of sources including The Economist, London Stock Exchange, Getty Images, ESPN, Agence France Presse, and more. Renew will display different feeds depending on location / time, and broadcasts each business day between 6 AM and 11:59 PM — lest we forget about those working the late shift. The hardware is Wi-Fi capable, and Renew has offered hints of future hotspot functionality and direct communication with mobile devices as part of its roadmap.

Just looking at one of these Renew pods gives the impression that the project didn't come cheap, and the numbers bear that out. Factoring in development, manufacturing, and installation, each unit costs a whopping £30,000 (~$47,500 USD). With 25 placed throughout London right now, the company aims to quadruple that number and have 100 pods in use by the time opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics kick off. Speaking of which, the Renew unit also has the capacity to serve as a source of public safety information in times of emergency. An extensive contract with the City of London ensures Renew's presence through 2032. That doesn't mean it will stay a UK exclusive, per say: the company plans to showcase its technology outside the New York Stock Exchange beginning this spring, with similar plans for Singapore and Japan.