What if I told you an aesthetically stunning solar-powered bench could wirelessly charge your device, provide Wi-Fi and perhaps most critically, track the ‘health’ of your local environment? Would you be more curious if I explained that there was a public safety aspect here too, as it tapped into an entire network of emergency call stations, making them available at the mere push of a button?
This clever, easy-to-install bench is primed for communal urban areas such as parks, playgrounds and outdoor office areas, and is chock full of sensors that will track temperature, humidity, air quality, air pressure and even noise levels. See the bench in action in our video:
I see benefits here not just for us everyday citizens but local councils, community groups and businesses who want to make their spaces cleaner, smarter and safer. It made sense to the judges of Verge Accelerate in San Francisco (the startup won a prestigious award there in 2014) and the World Technology awards (they were finalists) in the environment category. No mean feat that.
I’ve interviewed quite a few smart city project founders in the past and most have confessed to coming up against some major roadblocks to bring their concepts to market. Given this area of technology involves infrastructure deployment, approvals from city councils and regulatory oversight, I also asked Milos for an honest view of his experience of taking the bench from idea to seeing it live on the ground. Do watch the interview to hear from him first-hand.
Milos has ambitious plans for extending the reach of the product – he’s looking to offer smart city infrastructure to sports arenas, large retail spaces and university campuses.
With the Strawberry Bench bringing the IoT to outdoor spaces – 400,000 users and counting – this is indeed a shining example of tech being leveraged for wider social good.
I’d also hazard a guess that the Strawberry Bench might be quite the conversation starter amongst strangers… while you’re sat there wolfing down a sandwich and charging your device, the novel nature of this seemingly inanimate piece of outdoor furniture could help break the ice. Hey, you might even walk away with a business contact or two…