Smart benches coming to a park near you

You’ve heard of smartphones, smart homes, even smart cars. Now there’s a new addition to the family: smart benches.

That’s the idea behind a new Boston initiative, which is bringing nearly a dozen Soofas to the city. The solar-powered benches — which made their debut at last month’s White House Maker Faire — will be located throughout several parks enabling residents to not only take a load off their feet, but recharge their phones and download environmental data like noise levels and air quality, as well. The ‘smart’ effort is driven by an urban furniture company invented by MIT Media Lab spinoff Changing Environments, a Verizon Innovation Program.

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“It started as a research project and turned into something people really want,” Co-founder and CEO Sandra Richter told ABC News. “It seems people are always juiced out on their phones.”

At first glance, the Soofa may appear to be just an ordinary park bench; however, what distinguishes it from the rest is a simple charging station that uses solar power to charge a pair of smartphones at a time.

Soofa

The ability to accumulate environmental data and remotely translate it into useful information is the backbone of the smart city concept. According to USA TODAY, Richter believes it’s about time we start taking that concept seriously — not just in Boston, but everywhere. “This sort information is what drives — or will drive — the Internet of Things.”

Soofa’s website visitors will have the ability to see just how much solar power is generated, exactly how much shadow falls on the panels, and how many people are charging per day.

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“I think that it’s time that we stopped talking about the Internet of Things and just do it,” Richter says. “For us, this is a first step toward connectivity that makes sense.”

Whether you want to learn more about the benches or simply view the data of the first Soofas, you can do so here.

1 thought on “Smart benches coming to a park near you

  1. Pingback: TetraBIN combines of 8-bit video games and waste removal | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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