“Your cellphone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?” This is a statement made by Boston’s Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, when he unveiled that the city would soon start seeing “smart” benches making its rounds. This new initiative is called Soofas and basically what they do is that they help charge your smartphone while providing you with a place to sit as well.
Now we’ve seen charging efforts introduced in various cities around the US. For example over in New York City, AT&T introduced solar-powered street charging stations, so we guess Soofas would be the city of Boston’s response to that. The benches will feature solar panels which will be used to collect energy, energy which users can then use to charge their mobile devices with.
The Soofas were invented by the MIT Media Lab spinoff, Changing Environments, a Verizon Innovation program, which is why it’s not surprising these smart benches will connect to the internet via Verizon’s network. It will also use the internet to help upload data like air quality and noise levels.
The first few units will be sponsored by Cisco Systems and will be making their way to several city parks, like the Titus Sparrow Park in South End, the Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The city of Boston is also asking its residents to recommend future locations by heading over to the city of Boston’s website. In the meantime what do you guys think? Will these benches prove to be a hit?