SA clean energy innovation update
Solar powered ‘wi-fi bench’ seats the Johannesburg crowd
Johannesburg’s leading inner city regeneration developers have welcomed the launch of South Africa’s revolutionary new Isabelo Smart Bench as epitomising many of the core philosophies of urban redevelopment.
A first for the country and the continent, the bench launched at The Grove Square in Braamfontein, is designed as a stand alone entirely solar powered, free Wi-Fi hotspot, complete with USB charging points and easy seating that can help attract and bring life back into public spaces.
The innovative bench is already proving a popular meeting place as users can simply sit down, connect to the ‘Isabelo free Wi-Fi’ network with their smart phones and get connected.
Instantly recognisable by its iconic Wi-Fi graphics, the space age concrete bench houses super hi-tech solar and Wi-Fi technology that also supports leading software for running location specific digital market research.
South Africa has 23 million smartphone users, equating to a population penetration of over 47%. After Nigeria and India, South Africa ranks third in the developing country rating, in terms of the mobile percentage of total Internet traffic, which is currently at 57%. Users flock to the bench daily to enjoy the free services.
The solar technology means that users can charge their devices in the event of a power outage or a loadshedding power cut.
Karel Steyn, President of the SAEE sees the bench as “another fine example of the innovative thinking of pioneering South Africans who continue to explore solar powered solutions that reduce the exhausting energy demands in our country.”
Plans are in the pipeline to roll out the bench in other major centers in the country and decision-makers in other African cities on the continent have also expressed interest.
FRIENDLY FACTS ABOUT ISABELOTM
The product name isabelo is derived from the Zulu word ‘to share’ and the smart bench is all about sharing: sharing a seat. Sharing public spaces. And sharing content online.
Public Access Consulting, the company responsible for the creation and development of the bench, raised seed capital in March this year when they were short-listed among the top eight finalists in The Green City Startup, a competition funded by the City of Johannesburg and the University of Johannesburg. This capital enabled them to turn a business idea into a real product.
Public Access Consulting is currently looking for clients who are interested in conducting low-cost per contact digital research. The isabeloTM smart bench would be their connection point to the market, facilitating real-time location specific market research.
The design brains behind the bench are award-winning designers, Dokter and Misses, an internationally renowned Johannesburg-based multi- disciplinary product design company, with a focus on furniture and lighting.