Boston to receive solar-powered mobile-charging benches

1 Jul 2014

Co-founder and CEO of Changing Environments Sandra Richter with Boston's mayor, Marty Walsh

A number of benches are to be placed across Boston’s parks next week that will be able to charge a person’s mobile phone with the help of solar energy generated locally in the ‘Soofa’.

First tested and demonstrated last year, the original demo model has been updated to include a host of new features, including a larger seating area, and the ability to charge two phones at one time through two USB ports, according to The Verge.

The company behind the Soofa, Changing Environments, hopes to improve the design in the future to enable the clean tech park charger to charge devices wirelessly, similar to the charging points introduced to a number of Starbucks coffee stores in the US.

As a female leading a tech start-up, CEO of Changing Environments Sandra Richter also spoke of how the company also hopes to be a role model for women who want to become involved in technology start-ups.

“Soofa is the first step into smart urban furniture. The possibilities to update the city for the mobile generation are endless and long overdue.

“So are more female-led start-ups, which is why we hope to be a role model for women all over the world to found cool companies, like Nan Zhao, Jutta Friedrichs and I did.”

The company originated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Media Lab and will be looking to sell its line of Soofas to city councils and private buyers for US$3,000 each, with every bench coming with a 25-year guarantee.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic