Boston Installs Phone-Charging Solar Benches Across City Parks

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Former Staff Writer
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On-the-go and in dire need of cell phone fuel? Fear not, Bostonians: a burgeoning fleet of solar-powered benches are currently being installed within city parks to recharge depleting devices.

In addition to charging electronics, the Soofas -- as they’re called -- are also able to capture environmental data such as weather, noise levels, air quality and number of passersby per hour. These findings are then uploaded, via Verizon’s wireless network, to soofa.co for public consumption.

“Your cell phone doesn’t just make phone calls,” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh told The Boston Globe. ”Why should our benches just be seats?” City officials added that initial units are being funded entirely by Cisco Systems, the San Francisco-based networking equipment manufacturer.

Related: With National Rollout, Will Starbucks Make Wireless Phone Charging the New Wi-Fi?

Soofa was conceived by Changing Environments, an MIT Media Lab spinoff founded by a trio of female inventors. They say their aim is to get residents out of the house “and into a new, smarter and more sustainable city.”

After the invention made its debut at the White House Maker Faire last month, 10 Soofas have currently been installed throughout Boston and Cambridge.

Changing Environments is now inviting the public to suggest potential Soofa destinations and to name each of the benches on its website. While Hedy was unveiled in Washington, for instance, Boston is now home to Nanweigo, Spencer, Franklin, Nan, Bela, Lisa, DJ, Mia, Joe and Layla.

Related: 13 Accidental Inventions That Changed the World

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