Frostburg State University’s First Solar-Powered Bench Can Charge Your Phone

Nov 6, 2019 10:30 AM

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 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 now enjoy the outdoors while working on some 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 The smart urban furniture was developed by Changing Environments, a MIT Media Lab spin-off.

Dr. 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 integrate such benches in their design of spaces, because these benches save energy while offering a renewable energy source.