If you’ve ever needed to charge your phone while out and about it’s usually a case of sneakily plugging it in while you’re in a pub or a restaurant.
That could all change with the advent of the ‘smartbench’, which is coming to London this year.
Free WiFi is like gold dust to Londoners who are already paying a much larger chunk of their disposable income for housing, food and travel.
And while holiday-goers are more likely to see charging points in airports, there’s not much for the standard guy or gal on the street.
So the smartbench – a collaboration between Strawberry Energy and Ford – could be a real winner.
20 of these smartbenches have been installed in central, north and east London at major intersections offering free juice to charge your phone, using energy stored in solar panels.
London City Airport is getting one, and they’re also dotted about in Lewisham, Southwark, near Fordham Park, and in Forest Hill.
Battery power is stored up throughout the day and anyone with a cable, USB charger or Qi-compatible wireless pad can start charging for free.
There’s also free WiFi available in and around each smartbench.
These benches are also packed with hundreds of tiny little sensors which monitor things like air quality and atmospheric conditions, for anyone worried about London smog levels.
Over the course of a one-week trial in London’s Islington district in February 2017, Strawberry Energy said it had 990 people charging their phones from one of its smartbenches.
Following on from BT’s 1Gbps free WiFi boxes they’ll be a good first step towards truly interconnected smart cities.