Solar-powered designs gained the spotlight recently with the idea of solar-powered roads, but a new solar invention has already left the concept stage and is making its debut in Boston. It’s a cool mixture of functionality and sustainability called a “Soofa”. After presenting the concept to White House entrepreneurs and innovators, Boston has begun installing solar powered benches that will charge your phone.
Could solar power be the next phone charger?
It appears so! Boston residents are the first to try out the new solar-powered benches that allow people to charge their phones in an environmentally friendly way. Instead of hunting for electrical outlets, residents can stop at designated parks to plug in for power, and to take a quick break while they wait.
All about Soofas
Soofas are solar-powered benches with two USB ports that can charge your phone while you wait. The invention was done under Verizon’s Innovation Program through MIT Media Lab spinoff, Changing Environments. The Soofa also has the technology to connect to the internet wirelessly using the Verizon Network to download environmental information. Users will be able to look up location-based data on air quality, soofa usage for the day, and how noisy the area is.
The Soofas will cost approximately $3000, and fortunately for Boston, Cisco Systems will be footing the bill for first ones installed in the test market. Although the benches are quite expensive, Changing Environments does include a 25-year guarantee in the price.
Future of Soofas
Boston may be the first to test out the benches, but other cities including San Jose, California, and New York City are in talks with Changing Environments about installing some benches. The first ones in Boston charge your phone through a USB port using solar power. In the future, Changing Environments hopes to have inductive charging mats, or a surface on the bench that allows the phone to charge without cords.
To become profitable off of the benches, Changing Environments would like to use the benches for advertising. They are considering charging monthly subscriptions for a business plague on the bench, or by placing motion sensors on the benches for companies that have nearby advertising. This would tell the advertiser how many people are passing by their sign.
Considering the benches use a public USB port right now, there has been some chatter about hackers somehow planting devices to steal information from charging phones. Changing Environments counters this by saying the box is made of concrete with security screws only accessible by them.
Would you want a Soofa in your city?