Boston is experimenting with making USB outlets public property. A team of designers at the MIT Media Lab created park benches that double as charging stations, called Soofa. Boston has installed 10 throughout the city as part of a pilot project.
“I think it almost looks like a little creature, like a little critter that spans the city and helps people,” said Sandra Richter the co-founder of Changing Environments, the company behind the Soofa. “The two USB ports almost look like little eyes, and the concrete looks like a little head.”
Bostonians also have the opportunity to name their own Soofa bench, through the company's website. Names like "Hedy," and "Franklin" have already been used, and you can even track their energy use on Soofa's website.
While the designers wanted to encourage social interactions with the benches, they also wanted to encourage the use of renewable energy.
“We wanted to make a real urban design object that’s really fun, and sexy, and communicates the things we care about--which is smart, social, sustainable spaces,” Richter said. “We really believe in renewable energy. We’re not going to change the world with the benches, but we’re creating awareness for solar power.”