Surf net in CBD with free unlimited wi-fi
IF YOU find yourself stuck in Braamfontein with a flat computer battery or your data depleted, you can now plug in and connect using the Isabelo smart bench.
The concrete structure, built outside the Lamunu Hotel in the precinct, has a place to sit, plug in your charging cable and surf the net using free unlimited wi-fi.
At the launch of the smart bench yesterday, Louise Meek, whose brainchild the project was, said the solarpowered bench was their response to a need for accessible internet in Joburg.
With a team of three others, Meek streamlined her idea into the simplistic bench.
“We pitched it to the Green City Startup for seed capital, and we made it to the top eight in March.”
The Green City Startup is a City of Joburg initiative, which held a challenge to fund green initiatives.
The team developed and launched a prototype of the bench, which was made of plywood, and placed it in the Maboneng precinct in Doornfontein in May to see how they could improve it. After trying it out in two other venues, they had their final product.
“And now, after seven months of work, we are proud to say we have the first ever smart bench in Africa,” Meek said at the launch.
She said the bench makes money by providing a market research tool for brands and companies.
When users log on to the wi-fi, they answer a number of questions about themselves, and that info can be used by interested parties.
Although the team received R250 000 from the Green City Startup initiative, they are hoping to win the next round of the challenge and win a million rand to roll out more benches.
“We want to make another 15 benches from it, and if that doesn’t work out, we’re approaching corporate clients,” Meek said.
SMART CONNECTION: Isabelo is a wi-fi connection and phone charger smart bench located in Braamfontein, Joburg, and launched yesterday. Student Mandy Lupondwana, left, who resides in the area, gets smart.