Everything is smart these days. The phones, the bulbs, the TVs, even the washing machines can order some new detergent or book in a repair session without you getting involved. London has also seen the new Wi-fi emitting smart pods and green solar-powered phone box-shaped charging stations. Now South London is getting some new 'smart benches' that capture the power of the sun.
Southwark council has plans to install 29 of the smart benches, while nearby Lewisham is adding 25 of them. Other locations include Islington, which has been trialling the benches since last year. The benches themselves aren't that new, and were originally trialled by Strawberry Energy in the Canary Wharf area back in 2015. But a bunch of changes have been made in the years since, including design tweaks and different features.
The principle of the benches are the same, though. They pull in solar energy, even when not exposed to direct sunlight, and converts into stored energy for various technological marvels. In addition to being a place to park your bum, the bench also emits Wi-Fi, and has sockets for you to recharge your phone while you're giving your feet a rest. It also has sensors that can read local temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, noise, and air pressure, all of which can be accessed through a mobile app. The app is also capable of showing you the locations for various smart benches, as well as points of interest in vicinity of each one.
There's quite a lot packed into here, and in a place like London it always helps to be able to monitor the quality of the local air. The better news is that the installation apparently doesn't cost the council anything, because Strawberry has been expanding its network in other ways - including the use of crowdfunding.
Chancellor Peter John, leader of Southwark Council said:
“I welcome the arrival of these new Strawberry smart benches, they will help us to offer people in Southwark modern technology that responds to contemporary needs.
Milos Milisavljevic, Strawberry's founder and CEO also said:
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Southwark Council to extend the network of smart benches in the borough and hope the addition of new sensors will help the council and local residents have a better picture of air quality down to a street level.”