Every now and then an innovation emerges that doesn’t aim to reinvent the wheel, but simply repurpose and renew it. Sometimes those innovations shake the bedrock of technology and design, manipulating them to suit our constantly changing needs. Introducing the Isabelo Smart Bench, a locally crafted and sustainable bench that’s set to be a game-changer.
As Africa’s first ever free-standing, solar powered FREE Wi-Fi hotspot, the Isabelo Smart Bench is intended entirely for public use. Launched and tested as a prototype in the super trendy Maboneng Precinct earlier this year, the bench was a welcome change for the everyday commuter. But now, finally installed in its official cement mould in Braamfontein, the Smart Bench is nothing short of sensational.
The inventor of the bench, Louise Meek, couldn’t be more proud and rightly so. Created in conjunction with Adriaan Hugo, lead industrial designer of the bench and co-founder of Dokter and Misses, the bench is seen as a ground breaking ‘plug and play solution for public spaces’.
We are clocking an average of 50 users an hour logging on to the Wi-Fi and the numbers increase every day. – Louise Meek
Meek came up with this ingenious idea while studying towards her Masters in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management. Quite humbly, she explains she was simply looking for ways to identify and improve the needs of urban consumers in creating a vibrant and inclusive public space. Brilliant, if you ask us.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
Simple, eco- and user-friendly, as all successful inventions prove to be, the Smart Bench is instantly recognisable for its universal Wi-Fi icon. Users need only sit down on the beautifully designed concrete bench, connect via their smart phone, tablet or laptop to the Isabelo Free Wi-Fi network and that’s it!
If a user has a USB charger on them, they can plug in too for a free battery charge. Anyone who has run out of battery power while commuting will know how frustrating and hazardous that can be. Power banks, although readily available, are costly, are often forgotten at home (pointless, much?) and aren’t immune to the very real issue of load-shedding. That’s why this solar bench is a real game-changer.
Supported by a solar powered panel atop a five metre central column and fitted with an LED safety light for nighttime use, the Isabelo Smart Bench is a versatile modular seating structure that can be reconfigured to adapt to any public space.
This bench is brilliant. It is life changing for people like me who are less fortunate – Brian Kekana, 21 year old inner city resident
With two clear objectives, the bench isn’t your fly-by-night latest fad. Firstly, the intention is to provide fast, free Internet to the public. Then they’d like to commercialise free Wi-Fi in a sustainable way. The team is using the bench as an opportunistic consumer marketing platform to suss out insights from users and to determine what’s next.
I believe we have successfully achieved our aim of designing a bench that both enhances and encourages people to use public spaces in a more engaging way. – Adriaan Hugo.
We can’t wait to see more of the Isabelo Smart Benches popping up all around the country.
See the video below for more:
All Images: Supplied
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