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Boston Is Getting Solar-Powered Smart Benches in Its Parks

Illustration for article titled Boston Is Getting Solar-Powered Smart Benches in Its Parks

The next park bench you sit on may be smarter than you think. Boston is rolling out new smart benches to parks around the city, which will use solar power to allow anyone to charge their phone on the go and record data about their surroundings at the same time.

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The benches, developed by MIT Media Lab spin-out Soofa, are able to charge devices plugged into them via USB thanks to integrated solar panels. On-board sensors also allow the bench to record location-based environmental information, such as air quality and noise-level data, which is then uploaded to the cloud for future analysis.

The first benches in Boston are funded by Cisco Systems. They will first appear in Titus Sparrow Park in the South End, the Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway—but it's hoped they'll spread further over time. [Soofa via Boston Globe]

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DISCUSSION

That's a fine idea, but the placement of the solar cells seems pretty counter-intuitive. They basically take up a third of the seat. Why not stick them on a pole above the bench and have the charging plugs at the bottom of the pole? Hell, it could even double as a lamp post at night if they did that.