One big problem continually presents itself in today’s always on the go, always connected lifestyle, keeping your device charged and ready to go. AT&T, solar kit manufacturer Goal Zero, and Brooklyn’s Pensa Design are attempting to resolve that problem, with Street Charge, a solar-based charging unit that debuts today at Fort Green park in New York City, and will be rolled out across city parks and public destinations throughout the summer.
“There really is no existing elegant solution for power that can just be dropped in where you don’t have to wire anything and there’s not a lot of infrastructure that needs to be added in order to achieve it,” said Pensa’s design director Mark Prommel. And with Street Charge, the Dumbo-based studio has certainly produced something befitting of the word “elegant” — a design it’s confident will complement surroundings at various locales including Union Square, Coney Island, Central Park Summerstage, Randall’s Island, Governor’s Island, and Hudson River Park.
Each Street Charge unit boasts six USB ports. iPhone owners will find both Lightning and 30-pin dock connector cable built-in. A microUSB cable is included for Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices, along with three female USB ports for users who tote their own cables around.
While ideally, everyone will enjoy a little charge and some polite conversation with other users, no one is sure what type of experience users will actually have. “What’s this going to be like at 4:30 in the morning in Union Square? I have no idea, but we’re going to find out,” said AT&T spokesperson Neil Giacobbi.
Street Charge will be available 24/7, as Goal Zero’s solar-fueled batteries will continue to supply power for devices throughout the night. Each port puts out up to 10 watts, enough to recharge your smartphone at the same rate as (or faster than) most wall chargers. The companies expect most users to stop by for brief 10 or 15 minute charging sessions.
When deciding on locations for the Street Charge units, the partners looked for destinations that had heavy foot traffic, but they also wanted to make sure they were well-lit, with a prominent police presence. New York is facing a rising number of device thefts, and something like Street Charge would seem to make a very tempting target for the less-than-honest folks among us.
While select locations will have AT&T “ambassadors” on hand to help answer any questions users might have, other locations will see the users on their own, which the partners don’t feel will be a problem. “People just sort of got it right away” said Prommel.