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The bench that charges your phone
The technological wizards at Changing Environments, one of the many spin-offs from the Boston-based MIT Media Lab, have finally combined the two ultimate human endeavours: sitting outside quietly and a fully charged phone.
How have they done this?
They’ve done this by developing the Soofa, a solar-powered public bench which contains two USB ports. Simply stop at a bench, sit down, plug in and juice up. Sit on a bench during your lunch break sandwich to quickly take a dead phone up to about 20%, get engrossed chatting to a fellow Soofa user and you’ll hit 50% before you know it, or sit next to Forrest Gump to take your phone to full charge.
What else does it do?
The ‘smart urban furniture’, which is completely free to use, not only keeps your cell charged, but is fitted with sensors that pick up urban environmental data such as noise pollution and air quality. All this data is uploaded to a public website, so anyone can check out their home town’s green credentials.
The benches are plotted on maps, and users can reveal how many people have visited it that day, how many solar charging hours it can provide, a weather forecast and even the numbers of passersby, as well as the noise and air data.
How many are there?
The Soofa is created by three women who are working to install the first dozen benches around Boston over the next month. The first units are sponsored by Cisco, a company heavily involved in driving the Internet of Things, and use a Verizon 4G LTE network.
Each Soofa has a name (Franklin, Mia and Nan being the first three) and co-founder and designer Jutta Friedrichs notes: “We envision Soofas acting as magnets that invite people to enjoy the outdoors while reading the news, sharing a video, or catching up on email without fear of running out of power.”
Weirdly, it’s not the first technological bench we’ve seen – who remembers the TweetSeat? – but it’s one we can’t wait to sleep on. Sorry, sit on.