The City of New York is often the first city to experiment with new technology (or one of the first in North America, at least). Just last month, a few taxicabs in the city were outfitted with iPads and Square payment devices. Now, the NY Post is reporting that the city will soon be replacing a handful of Pay Phones (remember those?) with touchscreen devices. That’s right, touchscreens will soon be dotting the streets of New York, and most people think that this is a good idea.
The new touchscreens would provide access to Internet phone services such as Skype, but there would be some other advantages to these screens as well. The Post reports that 250 pay phones throughout the city are already undergoing the transformation. I’m not sure how well these touchscreens will fare on the streets of New York, but there’s no doubt that advertisers will certainly cash in on the new technology.
An Advertiser’s Dream
The touchscreens that NYC will be setting up in 250 locations will be 32-inches large (quite a bit larger than the standard pay phone). When not in use, one can only assume that the city will be renting out touchscreen space to advertisers. These news screens will provide, no doubt, prime ad real estate. Of course, the location of each new touchscreen will determine just how much the city can fetch per ad space, but these new screens will provide a good amount of ad space all the same.
When in use, the new touchscreen phones can be used like a regular phone. Callers just have to drop money into the slot and dial away. If a caller wants to use a pay phone with a service like Skype, however, those calls are about to get a lot more public (just warn whoever you’re talking to that they could be seen by millions of people, so make sure that they are appropriately dressed!).
One Potential Issue
The NY Post did report that the new screens are waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about your call being dropped if it starts to rain. Only, I’m wondering if these screens are theft, smash, and vandalism proof. It seems only a matter of time before screens are cracked, hacked, and sprayed with many different colors. I’ll assume that city officials are going to place most of the trial touchscreens in good neighborhoods, though even these screens won’t be immune to late night mayhem.
New York City is forging ahead with the touchscreen plans despite potential issues, and that’s actually a good thing, since the city should try to experiment with new technology, right? If you live in New York City, you can expect to see touchscreen phone booths popping up around you (if you live in a good part of town) sometime within the next few months. Presumably, these screens will also provide Internet access to those who need it and the Post has also reported that smaller screens will be placed inside of subways, so that tourists can use handy touchscreen maps.