When was the last time you used a payphone? Personally, I have not used one in over a decade. Payphone installations have silently been removed from sight since the 1990s. They are all but gone. However, a modern incarnation of the phone booth is attempting to foster the return.
New York is planning on replacing all the old school pay phones with high tech “smart screens,” operating system unknown at the moment. The “smart screen” is a 32-inch touch interface that works as a simple phone and an internet connected computer.
Through the city’s 311 service, the smart screen provides restaurant suggestions store sales in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts. All the information that provide can be read in different languages.
It will eventually let you Skype and log onto e-mail accounts. Don’t start making one your new office, since they do monitor each booth and disable some internet access in the case of abuse. Alternatively, you might not want to touch a public touch screen. The city is building them to be dust and water proof, and they will be power washed frequently. Still, that doesn’t put my germaphobia to rest.
They plan on replacing all 12,800 outdoor payphones with the smart screen after the trail run. Right now there are only 250 smart phones located throughout the New York old phone booths. They are free of charge to see how well people adapt to them. Once all is done, the city will get 36 percent of all ad revenue. They are estimating the new systems will collect money in the excess of $18 million USD each year.