The Internet of Things will be a $7 trillion industry by 2020. We have witnessed a crazy shift from standard products to smart products, be it smartphones, smart homes, smart cars, smart gardens or a smart camera. It wouldn’t seem crazy to grasp the news that the next smart product to plop down in the internet of things portfolio is a ‘smart bench’.
Soofas are hi-tech solar-powered benches that allow you to charge your cellphone via USB outlet, connect to the internet and take location-based data on information such as air quality and noise-level. The concept of Soofa was designed and built by three MIT female engineers as a part of Verizon Innovation program.
“Your cellphone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement Friday.
In a partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab spinoff startup, Changing Environments, Boston announced on Friday that it will rollout the solar-powered benches located in various parks.
Soofa benches connect wirelessly through Verizon’s network, to the Internet to upload location-based data collected on air-quality and noise-level and other environmental information. City official said that the first units in the city will be funded by Cisco Systems, at no cost to the city, as indicated by Boston Globe.
“We are fortunate to have talented entrepreneurs and makers in Boston thinking creatively about sustainability and the next generation of amenities for our residents,’’ Walsh said.
Over the coming week, the benches will be placed at several city parks, including Titus Sparrow Park in the South End, the Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
“We want to make cities updated for our generation,” Sandra Richter, one of the three inventors of the Soofa. “One trait we have is we run around with our phones all the time, and they die every five minutes. So for us it’s really important to be charged up all the time and be connected to each other.”
Currently city officials are asking Boston city residents to recommend additional parks where Soofas could be installed, which can be done logging online to bit.ly/bosbench or tweeting the location to @newurbanmechs. Boston city residents can also submit ideas for the name of smart benches in each park through Twitter by tagging @mysoofa or simply via their website soofa.co. Submissions for the both must be done by July 11.
Once the Soofa’s are installed in Boston, other cities where Changing Environments has plans to set up smart benches in the parks is in San Jose, California and New York.