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Boston Company Develops a Bench that Measures Amenity Usage

Soofa has developed a bench that charges residents’ phones and measures how many people are using an amenity area

To most people, a bench is just a bench. It is somewhere to sit and read the newspaper (or scan information on your phone), have a cup of coffee or catch up with a friend.

Don’t tell that to the developers of Soofa. When they see a bench, they perceive a piece of furniture that can be activated by solar power to charge a person’s smartphone and even monitor their environment. 

Launched in Boston in 2014, Soofa’s bench is now in 30 states, five countries and more than 75 cities. One of its first apartment installations was with LeFrak in New York. Since then, it has found a home in the rooftop gardens and courtyards of more than 15 apartment communities in the United States, United Kingdom and Costa Rica. 

“It is providing a much-needed sustainable amenity in the form of USB charging for phones and smart devices,” says Edward Krafcik, Director of Partnerships at Soofa. “The bench is also collecting data on how many people are walking by or congregated in a space.”

The plug-and-play technology requires no wiring because it is powered by the sun. Data from the bench is transferred via a Wi-Fi connection.

Soofa also offers the solar-powered Eink sign for apartments, smart parks and bus stops. The 42-inch, solar-powered digital display can communicate bus arrival times, event programs and more. The screen is connected via 3G to upload content. 

“We give property managers opportunities to display local events nearby that residents should know about— as well as information such as transit arrival times, things to do at the community, places to eat and local business advertisements,” Krafcik says.

Kettler installed Soofa on the rooftop at M.flats Crystal City, which opened September 2016, and plans to install it at Highgate at The Mile located in McLean, Va. So far, it has received positive feedback from the residents at M.flats.

“We liked the aesthetic of the product and wanted to keep with the energy savings we were looking to achieve at this project,” says Erin Lipari, Senior Development Associate at Kettler.