The Isabelo Smart Bench: FREE WIFI PUBLIC BENCH in its full glory

A few months ago we featured the Isabelo Smart Bench prototype on our blog earlier this year. The official cement one has just been installed in Braamfontein Johannesburg.

As Africa’s first ever free-standing, solar powered FREE Wi-Fi hotspot, the Isabelo Smart Bench is intended entirely for public use. The Isabelo Smart Bench, lit up at night with an LED safety light.

The inventor of the bench, Louise Meek, couldn’t be more proud and rightly so. Created in conjunction with Adriaan Hugo, lead industrial designer of the bench and co-founder of Dokter and Misses, the bench is seen as a ground breaking ‘plug and play solution for public spaces’.

Meek came up with this ingenious idea while studying towards her Masters in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management. Quite humbly, she explains she was simply looking for ways to identify and improve the needs of urban consumers in creating a vibrant and inclusive public space. Brilliant, if you ask us.

Simple, eco- and user-friendly, as all successful inventions prove to be, the Smart Bench is instantly recognisable for its universal Wi-Fi icon. Users need only sit down on the beautifully designed concrete bench, connect via their smart phone, tablet or laptop to the Isabelo Free Wi-Fi network and that’s it!

If a user has a USB charger on them, they can plug in too for a free battery. Supported by a solar powered panel atop a five metre central column and fitted with an LED safety light for nighttime use, the Isabelo Smart Bench is a versatile modular seating structure that can be reconfigured to adapt to any public space.

This bench is brilliant. It is life changing for people like me who are less fortunate – Brian Kekana, 21 year old inner city resident. A number of USB ports are available for on-the-go charging.

Firstly, the intention is to provide fast, free Internet to the public. Then they’d like to commercialise free Wi-Fi in a sustainable way. The team is using the bench as an opportunistic consumer marketing platform to suss out insights from users and to determine what’s next.

I believe we have successfully achieved our aim of designing a bench that both enhances and encourages people to use public spaces in a more engaging way. – Adriaan Hugo.

See the video below for more:

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Article has been edited and condensed for the DI, originally By Danielle Le Chat,