New “Smart Benches” in London offer free mobile device charging and free Wi-Fi access, as well as a place to sit and socialise.
Strawberry Energy has installed ten of the solar-powered benches across two London boroughs, Islington and Lewisham. They provide a Wi-Fi hotspot and incorporate USB charging ports, charging cords and wireless charging to allow passers-by to charge up their mobile devices. Thanks to energy storage technology, the benches continue operating when there is no sunshine and at night.
The benches also have sensors which monitor real-time environmental data including CO2, noise, temperature, humidity and air pressure. This data is made available to local boroughs, and it can be accessed by users via the Strawberry Energy smartphone app.
According to Miloš Milisavljevic, founder and chief executive of Strawberry Energy, the benches “bring people together, motivate them to spend more time outdoors, and enhance their enjoyment of the environment”.
The Smart Benches are being rolled out in partnership with Cancer Research UK. In addition to raising awareness for the charity, the benches are the world’s first to feature contactless payment which allows people to make a donation. Users can donate £2 to the charity’s life-saving research by simply tapping their contactless debit or credit card on the Smart Bench.
Paul Weaver, digital innovation manager at Cancer Research UK, commented: “Having used contactless technology in innovative ways in the past to engage the public in the work we do, we are always looking for new opportunities to incorporate contactless technology further throughout the charity and make it even easier for our supporters to help us beat cancer sooner. These Smart Benches seemed like the next step in our use of contactless technology to bring charitable giving closer to our supporters, integrating it seamlessly into cutting-edge street furniture.”