Ford, Strawberry Energy Adding 20 Ford Smart Benches in London
The rate at which things are going, everything inanimate is liable to be smart in the future. We’ve got smart weight scales, smart coffee makers, and smart lighting. Heck, at this pace, things will wind up being smarter than humans before too terribly long—and that is exactly how Terminators become a thing.
But before humanity is scattered among its own ashes and forced to fight and flee Hunter Killer drones and T-800 patrollers, we get the nice little conveniences of things like the Ford Smart Bench, which is being developed by the automaker and smart city startup Strawberry Energy.
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So what does a Ford Smart Bench do, exactly? It provides anyone sitting on it with the ability to charge their smartphone (or tablet or camera or whathaveyou) using a solar-powered mobile charger, and it even offers up free Wi-Fi. It can also monitor surrounding noise, carbon dioxide levels, humidity, and temperature. For the philanthropic, the benches can be used to make one-time donations to St. Mungo’s Rethink Mental Illness and Macmillan Cancer Support charities; Ford Fund will match donations it receives at Ford Smart Benches up to £10,000 each.
“At Ford, we believe the city of tomorrow should make people feel happy, safe and connected, so we’re looking at how streets could be designed to serve a full range of activities: walking, biking, driving, connecting with others, and of course, business and services that support our economies,” said Sarah-Jayne Williams, the newly-appointed Director of Ford Smart Mobility, Europe. “Walking, along with driving and riding public transport, is part of how people get around in a city like London, and Ford Smart Benches complement perfectly the increasingly connected lives we now lead.”
Ford and Strawberry Energy will provide 20 Ford Smart benches for London, which doubles the amount of Strawberry Energy Smart Benches already in place. While Ford did not announce immediate plans for further proliferation of its Smart Bench, its labeling as part of Ford’s City of Tomorrow would suggest that expansion of the technology could be in the works over the next several years.
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