The smart park bench that charges your phone

 
Boston is installing solar powered 'smart' benches in its public spaces. The design team behind the 'Soofa' say it's the bench of the future, giving park goers a comfortable seating area that doubles as a mobile phone charger. Video: Reuters

Mark Woods is getting a little pick me up in the park - for his phone that is.

He's just plugged into the Soofa - a bench that can charge any device with a USB cable.

A dozen of the charging stations are in Boston parks this summer as part of a city-wide pilot program to designed gauge how people react to high tech seating areas.

The creators of the bench Jutta Friedrichs, Sandra Richter and Nan Zhou of Changing Environments, say the Soofa is keeping people connected in more ways than one -- it's a new social space that eliminates some of the barriers created by the digital divide.

The 30 watt solar panel stores enough energy to fully power about 20 cell phones. And besides charging devices, the bench is intended to become an infrastructure hub that also provides data to researchers and city planners as well.

The team says the project has been so successful they're planning to roll Soofa out to other cities, giving people a place to take a load off while keeping their phones on.

Reuters

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