Solar Powered ‘Smart Benches’ will now Charge your Phones across Parks in Boston

July 1, 2014 - Written By Syed Sofian Rabbani

If you’re a resident of Boston, you have something new to look forward to when you visit that park in your neighborhood. A new initiative is now bringing smart benches to Boston city parks, which would work as a spot for charging your cellphones in the outdoors. These new smart benches have been invented by three female engineers of an MIT Media Lab spinoff startup Changing Environments, which is part of a Verizon Innovation Program. These benches, termed strangely as ‘Soofas’, will stay connected wirelessly to the Internet, thanks to their connectivity on Verizon’s network and will be used to upload information on environmental conditions, such as air-quality and noise-level data, which would be location-based to help with data analytics of the city’s environmental conditions.

Sandra Richter, one of the three “Soofa” engineers at Changing Environments stated that “We want to make cities updated for our generation. One trait we have is we run around with our phones all the time, and they die every five minutes. So for us it’s really important to be charged up all the time and be connected to each other.”

As reported by the Boston Globe, Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement that “Your cellphone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?” The Globe, further clarifies, that these “Soofas” will run on clean solar energy. The first pilot of these benches is being sponsored by Cisco Systems and would be placed across several parks in Boston, including the Titus Sparrow Park in South End, the Boston Common and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Though the first wave of Soofa installations is limited to Boston, the company plans future installations to happen in San Jose, California and New York. The idea of Smart Benches is definitely innovative, however an immense amount of public will is needed to make it a success. If you’re a resident of Boston and have had some experience with the prototype, do let us know in the comments below. We love to hear from you.