Startup Builds City Bench With Solar Tech, Internet of Things Connectivity

According to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, “Your cell phone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?”   

Soofas, the solar-powered benches currently being installed throughout the city of Boston, provide residents with free device charging and location-specific information such as air quality and noise levels. The benches provide an early look at new technology paving the way for future environmental data capture and sharing possibilities.

The Soofa, developed by Changing Environments, an MIT Media Lab spin-off and a participant in the Verizon Innovation Program, provides these services over Verizon’s 4G LTE network through Machine Connect, and will be using the Verizon Cloud to store and share environmental telemetry.

Free, convenient charging is always a good thing, and future versions of Soofa will feature inductive charging, or the ability to place your device on a surface and have it power up, no cord required. As wireless devices continue to work their way into all aspects of our lives, Boston residents can take full advantage of a place to rest their feet, get a quick charge and learn a bit about the environment around them. In fact, President Obama did just that at the recent White House Makers Faire, where the Soofas were showcased.

With the support of the Boston Mayor’s office, the Soofa team is currently installing the first dozen benches around the city. After Boston, there are plans to expand the Soofa to other cities and build a smart infrastructure that collects urban data and informs actions.

From smart city technology to healthcare and education solutions, Soofas are just one example of the remarkable products developed by the Verizon Innovation Program. By teaming up with organizations large and small, the Innovation Program brings ideas like the Soofa to market and helps solve some of the world’s pressing issues.

Stay tuned for more news from the Innovation Program soon.