To charge your phone in public, you can mosey into a coffee shop and tap into an electrical outlet. Or, if you happen to live in a select few cities, you can find a Soofa bench and suck up some free, clean energy.
The forward-thinking furniture, debuted last year by engineers at the MIT Media Lab (who now run Changing Environments), looks like a regular bench with a Benihana griddle stuck in the middle. That’s actually a solar panel that channels electricity via USB ports. Two people can use it at once to charge phones, tablets, and other devices. Thanks to an energy-storage feature, it can also provide juice at night.