We spoke to Sandra Richter, co-founder and CEO of Soofa, about smart city furniture and a hyperlocal, data-driven approach to retail and advertising

Though we see plenty of big ideas surrounding the future of urban planning, the steps to make our cities smarter are often more incremental. Touch-screen kiosks pop up on street corners, cycling through advertisements and beaming out public Wi-Fi. These quickly become part of the landscape for unfazed city dwellers, but who thinks about their functionality behind the scenes?

Boston-based startup Soofa has been equipping urban centers with smart furniture since 2014. The company began with a bench that harnesses solar energy to double as a phone-charging station. The new Soofa Sign is more akin to those familiar kiosks, but unlike others, it uses electronic paper. Though it’s solar-powered and connected, its design very intentionally recalls the old-school community bulletin board. Both products can measure the traffic in public spaces, which Soofa analyzes for clients to fuel a hyperlocal, data-driven approach to retail and advertising.

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