NYC to transform old phone booths into 32-inch ‘smart screens’

The City of New York is reportedly planning to revive 250 old phone booths with the introduction of 32-inch Internet-ready “smart screens” throughout the five boroughs, The New York Post reported on Monday. The touch-screens will display local neighborhood information in multiple languages, including lists of nearby restaurants, stores in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts. If the pilot program is successful, the futuristic screens could replace all of the city’s 12,800 outdoor pay phones. “The goal is to pilot it and see what the response is,” said Nicholas Sbordone, a spokesman for the city’s department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. “It will help inform the city’s ongoing reassessment, with public input, of what we want or what we think the future of public pay phones will entail.” Read on for more.

According to City 24×7, the company that will install and maintain the smart screens, the new devices will actually be more sanitary than the average ATM machine. “They’re built to be cleaned with a jet hose,” said CEO Tom Touchet. “They’re waterproof and dust-proof.” The smart screens will even be able to make Skype calls, check email and serve as Wi-Fi hotspots, he said. To prevent anonymous trolling, the tablet’s search capabilities will be both protected and controlled.

The technology won’t cost the city anything and will eventually deliver revenue through advertisements. Once the program exits the pilot stage, the city will receive a 36% cut of all ad revenue.

In addition to the 32-inch displays, the city is planning to roll out out 22-inch touch-screens to pay phones located underground in subway stations. The underground units will be equipped with cameras for video applications, as well as power outlets so users can charge their phones while buying access to the Web, checking email and using apps.

The pilot program and initial 250 smart screens are scheduled to be unveiled next month, The Post said.

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