By Shawn McNulty-Kowal 02/24/2021
How many different ways can you say, “Do you have WiFi?” It’s my most-asked question when visiting new cities. In today’s world, having access to WiFi is essential if you plan on making the most of any trip abroad. But far too often have I thrown my money down the drain for a tiny cup of espresso just to use a cafe’s WiFi and charging port. Replacing this costly exchange with their interpretation of a city hub, the makers behind Kuube designed a smartbench for city centers, equipped with all the necessities that a modern-day traveler might need to comfortably move through any city. Moreover, given the fragile nature of our climate and our energy grid, these smartbenches could prove to be a highly valuable public utility during blackouts by providing free charging and WiFi to everyone.
Kuube comes in three different sizes, each of which offers the same services to varying degrees. The Kuube Nano, their mid-sized bench, is solar-powered and accommodates up to four people, complete with a WiFi hotspot, two USB chargers, two wireless Qi chargers, and a single display screen, which provides environmental information like weather, air quality, and UV index. For the makers behind Kuube, adapting their conceptual design process to help mitigate the current global climate crisis in micro mobile ways (i.e.; city bikes, electric scooters) was their top priority. On the choice to generate each smartbench with solar power, the designers behind Kuube say, “Living in the times of climate crisis we believe it is very important to achieve sustainability in as many ways as possible…Our goal is to achieve sustainable smart cities [through] micro-mobility.”
By collecting solar energy for Kuube’s operation, each smartbench is able to provide modern necessities like WiFi and charging ports for the traveler new to the city or resident in need of a ride home. In addition to its solar-powered operation, Kuube smartbenches are entirely constructed out of ethically sourced materials, like its easy-to-clean, recyclable aluminum body, tempered safety glass, and ash wood accents. The Kuube’s larger bench, called Plus, functions even more like a city meeting place, accommodating up to eight people. While their smallest bench, the Kuube Eco accommodates three people and could operate more like a portable WiFi-ready traveling companion.
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