A solar-powered smart bench on the Warners Bay foreshore features wireless recharging for compatible phones, multiple USB ports and the future capacity to act as a WiFi hotspot.
The 1.8m bench, overlooking the water near the Lake Street roundabout, also includes cooling fans to help provide more comfortable seating in the heat of summer.
Manager of community planning Andrew Bryant said similar benches could be rolled out across Lake Macquarie if the Warners Bay installation proved successful.
“This is a fully self-contained unit. It provides seating for up to four adults, and solar panels beneath the transparent bench seat can produce up to 100W of electrical power every hour – enough to charge mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices,” Mr Bryant said.
“Its internal batteries can actually store enough energy to power the bench for a week without sun.”
The bench is designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, with a solid steel frame, a weight capacity of 1000kg and high-impact plexiglass shielding the solar panels from damage.
Sensors embedded in the bench monitor air temperature, humidity, air quality and usage of the recharging ports, with this information transmitted back to Council.
Mr Bryant said the bench harnessed cutting edge technology to provide wireless charging to compatible, latest generation smart devices.
“This sort of thing would have been science fiction just a few years ago, but users with compatible phones can simply place them on a designated area of the bench to activate recharging,” Mr Bryant said.
Council is currently exploring options to further upgrade the bench – a move which could turn it into a WiFi hotspot.
“The internal mechanisms are designed to be upgraded depending on our future needs,” Mr Bryant said.
“We will monitor its use and the needs of the community and will make a decision on these capabilities down the track.”