City parks are islands of tranquillity in the midst of urban chaos. We frequent them seeking relaxation, better air or just trying to clear our heads with an after-work jog. Yet many parks are often unavailable – be it because they close at dusk, feel unsafe or because sitting on a cold bench after sunset isn’t fun.
Co-created by sports and tech companies, high-energy parks could become testing grounds for a new generation of products and a transformational point of urban development, pumping energy into the city 24/7.
Where do we start? What if paths were replaced with smart Solar Roadways?
- It would facilitate easy and flexible separation of lanes through LEDs – leisure walkers to joggers to cyclists.
- It would be safe for those jogging or cycling after dark – visible alerts would appear on the surface, informing of obstructions ahead – a run-away dog, a slow walker or a family with a pram crossing the path.
- Since the paths are also solar panels, they would generate enough electricity to keep the surface at above freezing temperature and thus remain snow and ice-free all year round. Depending on the availability of sunlight they may also generate enough green energy to share with the rest of the park.
- Speaking of green energy – a high-energy park would be a great platform for Solar Roadway testing and demonstration in advance of city-wide deployment.
What if the park oozed energy?
- As always, start with free Wi-Fi – so that joggers can easily stream music without additional costs.
- A number of companies are working on wireless charging for mobile devices. When the technology has advanced enough, the park could literally pump energy into you; possibly using the green power harnessed by solar panels.
What if your park was also your gym?
- Expand and support what is a popular application anyway. For a premium charge, joggers could gain access to changing rooms, showers and recreational services housed within the park.
- Classes could be organised on lawns or relocated to heated gazebos during cold seasons.
- The park itself would remain a public space, available to anyone;
- Registered users would have access to free Wi-Fi;
- Premium services like gym classes and equipment would be available on a pay-as-you-go basis;
- High-energy parks would record and store workout-relevant health information off registered mobile devices to track individual progress;
- For those without smart devices, smart health wristbands with additional NFC functionality would be offered;
- The whole space would accept NFC payments, so those, who work out only need a smart wristband to gain access to all services.
Who could co-create the experience?
- Obviously – sportswear and sport equipment manufacturers, promoting their products;
- Relevant gadget manufacturers – for the same reason;
- Gyms – showcasing their classes, equipment and services;
- Tech companies, testing and promoting relevant products;
- Health food producers and retailers – promoting their business and testing products with a power audience;
- Health insurance companies – rewarding clients who work out more;
- Beauty salons – for those who go out after an evening workout.
How can a high-energy park become both a social space and a temple of self-perfection?
The modern consumer culture puts tribes over old demographic splits – valuing shared interests and personality types above traditional characteristics like age.
- Remember those smart health wristbands a park could offer? Make them special editions, available only in that park; or even better – a (global) chain of parks – let it become an identity badge for people with common interests.
- For those willing to take it to the next level – working with a gym instructor, set a challenging goal and receive a different edition of the bracelet when the goal is achieved. That way the park would also celebrate those pushing their abilities to the limit. As goals would be set on an individual basis, anyone would be able to participate and the bracelet would become a testament to its bearer’s spirit, not physical strength.