By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
7:58 PM EDT, August 6, 2013
If you and your personal electronics are inseparable, nothing is more painful than running out of juice while traveling, especially if your device's GPS is navigating.
"New York City has been converting unused public spaces into urban oases complete with cafe tables, food vendors and Wi-Fi," said Marco Perry of PENSA, the Brooklyn studio that designed Street Charge as a free solar-powered charging station. "The only thing keeping us from staying outdoors all day was the ability to charge your device. People are using more and more data on their mobile devices, which drains batteries faster than texting or voice, and so the need for public mobile charging is going to increase."
Two companies, AT&T and Goal Zero, partnered this year to roll out Street Charge stations in popular New York pedestrian areas as a corporate promotion. Street Charge is available in 12 locations, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, Union Square, Hudson River Park, Governors Island, Coney Island and Brighton Beach, with two or three units in each location. Stations may move, so check street-charge.com/locations for current sites.
Powered by Goal Zero's technology, with solar panels and lithium batteries, each station can power six devices, day or night, with three built-in USB ports and three built-in tips: a micro USB, a 30-pin connector and a lightning tip. People supply their own cable for recharging via USB.
Though PENSA created a prototype of Street Charge and assisted with the design, Goal Zero makes the product. "We believe the Street Charge units can certainly include Wi-Fi, lighting and induction charging (wireless charging) as that becomes a new standard," said Joe Atkin, CEO of Goal Zero (goalzero.com).
"We have started working with groups from Miami to California and from universities to municipalities to deploy more Street Charge units," Atkin said.
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