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Power Technology

Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks 119

An anonymous reader writes Through a partnership with a MIT Media Lab spinoff, Changing Environments, Boston has announced that it will install solar-powered benches in several of its parks that allow you to charge your cell phone. The bench has a USB outlet, and also collects and shares a wide range of data, including location-based information, as well as air quality and noise-levels. "Your cell phone doesn't just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?" said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "We are fortunate to have talented entrepreneurs and makers in Boston thinking creatively about sustainability and the next generation of amenities for our residents."
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Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @12:06PM (#47350887)

    Considering how much trouble cities seem to have maintaining a bench made of wood I question how long these are going to last. Honestly I give them a month before they're all broken or vandalized.

  • But ugly as hell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @12:51PM (#47351267) Journal

    So, you have this boxy thing mounted in the middle of the park bench. The promo photo has two attractive people awkwardly trying to look chic sitting next to something about he size of an old-school VCR bolted to the middle of the bench. Of course, you'd naturally stick your 32 oz triple malt latte on it, and any 9 year old with angry daddy issues will beat it with the nearest rock. Meanwhile, it provides no shade at all.

    Great idea, utter failure in implementation. Instead:

    1) Put the solar panel (even if small) on a pole OUT OF THE WAY so it lets you sit on the !@# seat, and provides at least a modicum of shade. Better yet, made the overhead cover the length of the bench so the shade is usable and you get some protection from light rain.

    2) Put the USB charge port under the seat. This provides automatic protection from accidental strikes and also doesn't provide an automatic target for 9 year olds with angry daddy issues.

    As it sits now, it's practically a show case example of some bad engineering product a la Dilbert.

  • by Kremmy ( 793693 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:07PM (#47351435)
    When you're resorting to sleeping on benches, there's not a lot of people willing to hire you.
    Or let you take a shower.
    Or clean your clothes.
    And people talk about you like you have a choice in the matter.
    They put spikes and dividers on the benches so you can't sleep.
    Have you ever tried to find a job when you haven't slept comfortably for god knows how long, haven't had a solid meal, haven't been able to clean yourself up?
    Have you ever once, for a moment, stepped outside of your privilege and thought about what it actually means to be in that position, and what it honestly takes to get out it?
    Take a nap.
  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @02:40PM (#47352289) Homepage
    Then you get welfare, and go to the homeless shelter. Duh! Free money and an address where you can receive mail, shower, sleep, etc. Homeless people who *want* to get better can get better. I know because I did it.
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Monday June 30, 2014 @03:44PM (#47353025)

    "So, you have this boxy thing mounted in the middle of the park bench."

    Sit down for free, pay with the data from your phone.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.