Interacting with AT&T’s StreetCharge

TrendWatching did an interesting survey that asked a bunch of random people 6 years ago – if they could only have one thing, which would they rather have, a car or a mobile phone? MOBILE PHONE! Yes, more and more, we can’t live without it. And like a lot of people, whenever I go out and my phone dies, that’s it, it’s the end, my  day is ruined, my life is over.

AT&T’s StreetCharge

Press Release: AT&T has partnered with solar company Goal Zero and design studio Pensa to offer an eco-friendly solution for those who need on-the-go charging: public solar-powered charging stations. A direct outgrowth of Hurricane Sandy, the initiative aimed to keep New Yorkers connected as they traveled throughout the city.

The project, dubbed Street Charge, features a modern design and the latest in solar panel and battery technology. But most importantly to you: It charges any handheld device with a Micro USB, USB, 30-pin connector, or Lightning port — for free.

Recently, AT&T added a nifty addition to a few of the stations – FREE WIFI.

I was drawn to this piece of interaction technology when I was walking around Central Park last summer. What got me at first was the interesting flower-like design of the station and how people seem to converge to it. Coincidentally, my phone’s battery level as also below 20% so I had an incentive to investigate and try it out.

I personally think this is an interaction technology piece because at the end of the day (even though we’re not doing anything), we got a utilitarian value out of the connecting our mobile phones to it, either to get it charged or to access the free Wifi.

Delight

For tourists like me and those who have not seen station before, a sense of wonder/curiosity seems to be their first impulse. “What is this flower-like thing?” “How come so many people are standing around it.

After exhausting their curiosity, they then join the majority in feeling the sense a sense of delight to the service that the station provides. There will be a lot of people that will be excited to try it out. A few just happy to know that they’ve got the option to charge their phones just in case they run out of juice.

Relief

Those who have seen, heard or have used the station before seem to experience a feeling of relief upon discovering that there is a StreetCharge available at that corner or a space is available for their phones to charge. I saw a few busy New Yorkers take the time to cross the street just to get their phones going again. I heard a few “Thank God’s” thrown in just as they have their phones connected.

Frustration

There are those whoever who will feel frustrated, especially since each station would only have one (1) lightning cable attached and there is already another iPhone user charging their phone.  There are a few who in line who will impatiently tap their feet trying to signal to those charging to let them have a shot at the cable. Finally, there are some who will complain that the Wifi isn’t fast enough or isn’t working.

Real Interaction

Personally, the best part about AT&T’s StreetCharge is the real human interaction that happens because of it. I’ve observed that people drop their phones and talk to strangers around the station. I’ve even seen people exchanging business cards. I heard two dog lovers discuss grooming tips for their pets. As a result, real life connections have been made because of the stations. Potential friendships may have been made and businesses ideas have started just because people dropped their phones to charge them.

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