FROSTBURG — Frostburg State University’s first solar-powered Soofa bench has been installed not just for sitting, but also for charging devices. The new addition is on the balcony of the Lewis J. Ort Library.
At first glance the “smart bench” looks like it is connected to some sort of gaming device. On closer inspection, those are solar-powered charging ports. Students can enjoy the outdoors while doing homework, talking with a friend or just soaking in the view from the balcony without the fear of running out of power.
Soofa is a solar-powered bench that provides free outdoor charging for mobile devices and location-based information like air quality and noise levels by uploading environmental sensor data to soofa.co. The smart urban furniture was developed by Changing Environments, an MIT Media Lab spin-off.
Natalia Buta, chair of the department of kinesiology and recreation, was awarded an FSU Sustainability Grant to support the purchase and installation of the solar-powered bench. Students from the Recreation and Parks Management Park and Facility Design class and the FSU maintenance team determined the best location.
Urban parks across the U.S. are starting to install the benches to save energy while offering a renewable energy source.