'Smart Palm' solar chargers trialled successfully in Dubai

A FUTURISTIC palm tree could soon be sprouting up right across the world after a successful trial launch in Dubai. Running off the solar power that is in plentiful supply in the United Arab Emirates, the Smart Palm provides a range of useful services. Visitors and residents alike can charge their phones, access free Wi-Fi, and look up city information at absolutely no charge. Now the inventors of the device are hoping to bring it to the rest of the world with interest already registered from 23 other countries, including the United States and China.

'Smart Palm' solar chargers trialled successfully in Dubai.

'Smart Palm' solar chargers trialled successfully in Dubai. Image by Rob Young / CC BY 2.0

Two of the Smart Palms have been in operation in Dubai for the past two months with frequent use already being recorded. D Idea, the company behind the device, said they’d had 7626 users of their free Wi-Fi service and another 1767 people had charged their phone by the first week of September.

The next generation of the Smart Palm, which is planned for launch later this year, will be possible to manufacture using 3-D printers. The sleekly designed Smart Palms are equipped with a 360 degree infrared camera and an emergency button to contact police or medical services. Each of them is fitted with nine photovoltaic solar chargers, which generate more than enough electricity so that the devices run without need of extra power. So far, the two test models in Dubai have generated 526 kilowatt hours.

The Smart Palms have touch screen city information that is provided in multiple languages and offers advice on local sights and businesses. A small seating area is available at each so that people can use the Wi-Fi at their leisure to check their emails or catch up on news back home. Phone chargers are also provided, and the impatient will be happy to know that their mobile will be charged at two and a half times the speed of a normal charger.

New features are also being planned including the possibility of ATM services and even sunscreen spray booths. Although the original trial in Dubai is being part-financed by local municipal authorities, the Smart Palms also feature advertising screens, which will help to make them viable right around the world.

D Idea is planning to install 103 of the six-metre high Smart Palms in Dubai over the next year before expanding throughout the UAE, the Gulf, and eventually – they hope – worldwide.

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