Startup brings Solar-Powered, Phone-charging park benches and Digital Signs to Cities worldwide

The benches contain an embedded charging station powered by a mini solar panel, with two USB ports for plugging in mobile devices. They also connect to wireless networks.
3 years ago

Rob Matheson | MIT News Office - 27 January 2017

“The idea is to bring simple technologies to the streets,” says CEO Sandra Richter, a former Media Lab researcher who co-founded the startup with Nan Zhao, a Media Lab PhD student, and Jutta Friedrichs, a Harvard University graduate. “When it comes to smart cities, there’s been a lot of talking, but not a lot of doing. If you don’t want this [smart city] concept to die, you need to bring real-world examples to the places where we live, work, and play.”

The women-founded startup is the brains behind the Soofa Benches that have cropped up around Boston and Cambridge, including on MIT’s campus. The benches contain an embedded charging station powered by a mini solar panel, with two USB ports for plugging in mobile devices. They also connect to wireless networks.

First installed in Boston in June 2014, the benches are now in 65 cities across 23 U.S. states, including in New York; Washington; Los Angeles; Boulder, Colorado; Oklahoma City; and Austin, Texas. Cities in Canada, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, and Germany have adopted the benches as well. The startup also sells a Soofa charging station independently, which can be integrated into existing city infrastructure.

Photo: MIT Media Lab spinout Changing Environments is the brains behind the solar-powered Soofa Bench, which is equipped with an embedded charging station for mobile devices that also connects to wireless networks. Recently, the startup released the solar-powered Soofa Sign, which displays public transit times, weather, and events, among other city information. Courtesy of Changing Environments

Source: MIT News

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