Of course not. In addition to the ongoing faves such as streaming radio, TV programs, and movies, we have apps for heart health, apps for exercise, apps for no-hand selfies, read-it-later apps. Innovative ways to use our mobile devices appear almost daily these days.
Taking all that together, we’re online on our mobile device more. Running down the batteries is an increasing issue—but less so in Boston….
Meet Soofas—a place to charge and so much more
Boston, the city that brought us their Street Bump project [an app loaded into commuters’ smart phones that sends pot hole data to City Hall] has introduced solar-powered park benches, or soofas, that also charge cell phones. You can visit the brand new website soofa website here.
The City of Boston announced the debut of the soofa at the “White House Maker Faire in Washington, D.C., where select innovators and entrepreneurs gathered to encourage robust development of new American ideas.”
Boston.com reports that that the idea resulted from the partnership between Boston and Changing Environments, part of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Soofas and crowdsourcing
Each of the project partners has turned to crowdsourcing for aspects of the project. Changing Environments is utilizing crowdsourcing to name the benches and identify other sites for soofas (more on that below).
The City of Boston, which apparently has become a fan of crowdsourcing, not only looked to crowdsourcing to suggest other City-owned parks for sofa placement, but, significantly, also utilizes the bench charging devices to “collect data on air quality and noise levels.”
Crowdsourcing is a win-win strategy that looks at “customers as co-creators, not targets,” as our blog suggests. When customers participate, everyone wins.
It’s not just for city parks
Changing Environments’mission page states, “Our core value is to help cities, campuses, corporations and resorts to update their urban context for the mobile generation.”
Their soofa website proclaims that “We are working together with universities and corporations to make campuses more social, sustainable and smart,” even including a form to send in suggestions for private park-like areas that could benefit from installing soofas.
Combining two technologies to solve one need
Increasingly, innovations are developed by discovering ways in which two different technologies can work together to address a public or consumer need—or both, in the case of the sensors in the soofa chargers.
Boston’s Mayor Walsh put it this way: “Your cell phone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?”