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Boston developing solar-powered benches

| July 8, 2014

We don’t ask much of park benches—we just want a place to sit and rest and enjoy a nice day outside. But what if benches could provide more than a place to rest—a lot more? Cisco is funding the development and installation of “smart benches,” known as “soofas” throughout parks in the city of Boston. These solar-powered benches harness energy throughout the day and use that energy to fuel built-in outlets where passersby can charge their phones and other electronic devices.

We know. Super cool.

And yet, that’s just the beginning. These “soofas” are also equipped with advanced sensors that will collect and transmit data regarding air quality and noise levels.

solar-powered

From Soofa.

Soofas represent an intriguing clash between nature and technology. While charging stations and sensor-based transmitting devices already sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, we wouldn’t be surprised to see even more advanced capabilities built into benches in the near future.

As Sharif Sakr of Engadget points out, Soofas—and other technological advancements built into otherwise banal, un-networked objects—are all part of the increasing movement toward the “Internet of Things.” We’re excited to see an example of this trend that embraces sustainability. Solar power is a key aspect of these smart benches, and it’s what makes the initiative earth-smart as well as tech-smart.

The soofas aren’t installed yet. In fact, their future locations have yet to be determined. That’s because the forces behind the effort are allowing Bostonians to weigh in on which parks should have soofas installed. Interested locals can submit pitches through July 11th.

Our favorite comment on the Engadget article? “[This initiative] promotes loitering.” As one responder astutely observed, “All benches promote loitering.” This way, at least, you can charge while you loiter—and enjoy the sunshine.

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Category: Energy

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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