The creative fellows at Pensa are turning a few heads with their Street Charge concept that would seek to turn everyday city street signs into illuminated charging stations for mobile devices.
Following our look at the DIWire sort-of-3D-printer, this is the second time Pensa has crossed our desks in as many days. But where DIWire is a working prototype, Street Charge is only a concept. I say only...
The idea is simple. Strap some photovoltaics to any upright piece of street furniture such as a bus shelter or street sign, and it becomes a simple matter of cables and conduits to turn the furniture into a charging station into which pedestrians can plug their telephones. They even go as far as to add surfaces (made from locally reclaimed materials, natch) on which to rest your phone, coffee, elbows and what have you, while you wait.
Concept images suggest that the underside of the small PV array (which bends out from the top of the street sign rather like an ice hockey stick) could be embedded with LEDs to offer supplementary pedestrian lighting - mainly for those using the charging station below by night, one imagines. Such pieces of vertical street-cruft are too randomly dispersed to be relied upon for amenity lighting proper.
Re-imagining dead street furniture as connected hubs is a seductive idea, albeit one that would have to overcome a few hurdles to make it to the real world with its real vandalism and real promise of inductive charging: not insurmountable issues, perhaps, but things to think about and potentially adept to before Street Charge suits up for urban deployment. As Fast Company suggests, hook up Wi-Fi and people will even have the incentive to actually plug in.