When’s the last time you made a call by dropping a coin into a public phone? I know I haven’t done it since I was a teenager. And with the cell-phone era in full swing, there’s probably an entire generation of people now who don’t even know what a payphone is.
But the phone booth is not dead – it’s changing with the times. Check out the company City24x7, who is upgrading 250 New York City phone booths (scoop via Fast Company). The actual phones are gone, replaced by 32″ touch screens that deliver headlines, local events, traffic info and even special deals to passerby. The city gets a percentage of any revenue from advertising.
The digital hubs also provide free Wi-Fi to the surrounding area, and one day they may even allow Skype video calls.
In a way, they serve a similar function to the old, Clark-Kent style phone booth – they are public access points that allow anyone to plug into the city’s information network. The new version, however, has a lot more information to plug into, and can be highly customized based on its specific location or even the individual user.
What do you think – are these the new face of public information infrastructure? Or is this just a flashy new way to deliver the same old boring advertisements? Share this on Facebook or Twitter, then add your opinion in the comment box.