These days, the word “smart” has become ubiquitous.
And technological advancements promise even more creative, smart innovations – often in places you’d never imagine.
Like this one…
An Innovative, Green Solution for On-the-Go Charging
Throughout history, park benches have been purely functional.
Places to sit, rest, chat, and watch the world go by.
But what if you could do all that, while putting them to even better use at the same time?
That’s the goal for engineers at a company called Changing Environments.
They’ve designed a smart bench that helps consumers with some real, “no-brainer” technology.
On-the-go charging for mobile phones.
Their invention is called the Soofa – an environmentally-friendly, solar-powered bench that doubles as a phone-charging device.
It’s compatible with any device. All you need is a USB cable. Just plug in your phone, kick back, and power up. The bench’s 30-watt solar panel boasts enough juice to fully recharge 20 phones at a time.
In fact, Changing Environments Co-Founder, Nan Zhao, says the Soofa system is able to monitor key data: “Our benches are actually connected to the Internet using 4G LTE, and they’re uploading data about how many people are using it, and how much sun power we’re collecting to our server. In the future, we’re thinking of also implementing other sensors depending on what the needs of the areas are.”
In other words, these benches could become data points, providing useful information to city officials.
The Soofa isn’t stuck in the lab, either. Twelve of the benches have already been placed in public areas in Boston – part of a city-wide pilot program.
Here’s a look at the bench in action…
Smarter Energy for an Energy-Hungry World
This is the latest innovation that’s tapping into natural resources to satisfy our energy and power needs.
Last November, for example, I talked about how English company, Pavegen, had installed its energy-harvesting tiles in a school to “create energy by walking.” The tiles capture kinetic energy when people walk on them, and convert it to electricity.
And in the same way as that eases the burden on the electric grid, so too does the Soofa, by using solar power to charge phones, instead of regular electricity.
So will we see these smart benches pop up in more places?
The answer is “Yes,” says the Changing Environments team.
They say their invention and the Boston trial is proving so successful that they plan to roll it out to more cities in the future.
Innovation you can sit on – now that’s smart!