In this case we noticed that most park users carry smart phones and tablets with unpredictable battery life. A low battery indicator can spoil the experience of anyone trying to enjoy a public space. When a technology company approached us in 2012 with their proof-of-concept for a solar-powered charging station, we decided to collaborate with them to turn the idea into a viable product. The concept seemed like a great partner for our free park Wi-Fi, launched in 2002, and our network of 40 wired charging outlets, launched in 2012.
CityCharge is the result of two years of product development collaboration between, Bryant Park Corporation, Green Barrel Energy Inc., a New York City based solar company, and Landscapeforms, USA’s leading manufacturer of high quality street furniture. This urban grade solar-powered charging station comes equipped with six charging cables that can accommodate most electronic devices. The machines are movable and powered entirely by solar energy.
“We are extremely excited about the launch and pleased that the prototype testing in Bryant Park is going really well,” said Tommy Mitchell, Green Barrel Energy Founder and CEO. This summer, Green Barrel Energy plans to install six additional machines in Bryant Park and continue its expansion in New York City and other areas in the US.
“The design was inspired by people and how they use public spaces,” said Ignacio Ciocchini, the Industrial Designer behind CityCharge. “It is round, easy to move, and has a communal table that encourages social interaction.”
Ciocchini, who leads the in-house Design Department for Bryant Park Corporation, also designed the tulip trashcans in Bryant Park and the CityBench for the NYC Department of Transportation. “The product features a blue polycarbonate table that is soft on phone casings and visually connects the product to the sky and nature, where the power comes from,” he added.
CityCharge fits right into any public space and works well with existing chairs, tables, and umbrellas. It has five wheels on swivel casters with brakes so it can be easily repositioned to make room for events, programming, or maintenance activities. It has a solar panel that can be manually rotated to point South, and an internally illuminated power-icon that indicates when the unit is turned on. All the electronic components can be remotely monitored via proprietary web software. These features make it an ideal choice for any public space manager.
The product is a piece of street furniture that can be left outdoors full-time without the need of storage during rain or snow. Most parts are carbon steel with an electro-coated and polyester powder-coated finish. The end result provides incredible protection against rust and UV degradation and is easy to clean with residential grade cleaning products. “Improving environments with design focused engineering solutions is our passion and expertise,” said Robb Smalldon, Manager of Studio 431, Landscape Forms' customs division. “When new technology is incorporated into this equation, it offers all of us a memorable and highly functional experience.”
Green Barrel, Bryant Park, and Landscapeforms are currently developing improvements for CityCharge based on product performance, user comments, and observations on how the public is interacting with the prototypes. The product design, hardware, and engineering teams are collaborating very closely and the resulting product will be commercialized by Green Barrel Energy in the near future.
Bryant Park is one of the busiest public spaces in the world due to its enviable number of things to see and do. Movable chairs, an impeccable lawn surrounded by lush gardens and London Plane trees, beautiful allees, shady and sunny areas, good food, ping-pong tables, an outdoor reading room, a French inspired Carrousel, juggling, knitting, and language classes, are just some of the features of the park. Now you can add solar-powered charging stations to the list.
- Solar Power Technology by: Green Barrel Energy, Tommy Mitchell, Founder/CEO
- Product design and product development by: Ignacio Ciocchini, IDSA. Industrial Designer
- Product Engineering and Manufacturing by: Landscapeforms/Studio 431