The City of Boston, Massachusetts, has partnered with Charging Environments to place new, high-tech benches known as Soofas, around the city.
The Soofa is a welcome addition to Boston. Not only is it a bench, but it offers two USB ports that will charge your smartphone. That’s not all the Soofa does, though – it is as sustainable as it is useful. Each Soofa is powered by a solar panel that keeps energy drain off the city power grid.
Soofas also monitor their surrounding environment to provide data about air quality and noise levels. Charging Environments has partnered with Verizon Wireless to transmit this data, meaning that the Soofas can connect to Verizon’s 4G LTE network but will not offer users additional data. One can imagine a future, though, where city-wide wireless connection is delivered through Internet-capable objects like Soofa benches or flagpoles. Charging Environments is planning to add wireless charging in future iterations of the Soofa.
Developed by three women inventors who formed Charging Environments as a spin-off of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Soofa is a no-brainer for cities looking to improve their sprawling urban environments. The functionality, sustainability, and style demonstrated by the Soofa is proof that the future can be greener without sacrificing usability.
Cisco Systems has completely funded the first batch of benches, meaning that the City of Boston received each Soofa at no expense. These benches appeared at Rose Kennedy Greenway, Titus Sparrow Park in Boston’s South End, and Boston Common. Per Soofa’s website, there are currently 10 of the modular, weather-resistant Soofa benches spread across Boston and the surrounding area. Visitors will be able to log on to the website in the near future to take a look at real-time statistics like noise levels, sunlight levels, the number of passerby, and the number of people who used a particular Soofa to charge their device that day.
Soofa is taking a huge step forward in preparing us for the city of the future. If you’re near Boston, take a few minutes to seek out one of these stylish benches. Sit down with a cup of coffee, plug in your phone, and enjoy one of the greatest cities on Earth.
Featured image courtesy of Huh Magazine