Solar-powered Wi-Fi sprouts up around the country

Courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
In Boston, giant flowers harboring solar-panels, form a solar-powered Wi-Fi garden to promote the launch of the 2010 Prius.

In New York today, giant flowers sprouted up among the skyscrapers, forming a solar-powered Wi-Fi garden.

The 18-foot-tall faux daisies' petals and stems harbor solar-panels, which power a free Wi-Fi network for passersby. The flowers have been planted in New York's Flatiron Plaza to promote the launch of the third-generation Toyota Prius, which features a solar-powered ventilation system. When the 2010 model is parked in the sun, solar-panels will activate fans to help cool down the car.

Finding Wi-Fi isn't hard these days – waltz into any Starbucks, public library, or even a McDonald's now, and you'll see signs touting Wi-Fi access. That's a plus, since Wi-Fi usage is increasing – 56 percent of Americans said they have accessed the Internet using a wireless device, according to a new Pew Research Center study released Tuesday.

These larger-than life flowers not only provide free, solar-powered Wi-Fi access, but they also serve as charging stations for laptops or other electronic devices. The base of the daisy has 10 built-in seats so you can sit among the flowers while you type and e-mail.

The flowers, which recently made an appearance in Boston, will soon blossom in select cities across the US including Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

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