New York City has a problem: It has a ton of payphones, and even drug dealers have decided they’d rather be arrested with a cell phone than be seen on one. So they’re going to turn them into gigantic “Smart Screens”.
Yes, essentially this is an iPad bolted into a steel booth:
The Smart Screens are wired with Internet access and provide information on city goings-on. They are free to access and generate revenue via local advertising. People can use the tablets to get information on local restaurants, nearby stores, tourist attractions, and traffic updates. The booths also provide access to the city’s 311 complaint and information line and offer safety alerts. All of this is available in multiple languages.
So if you don’t have a smartphone, you will at least be able to use these things to find out where to get drunk, which is the key thing to know about any city. We think, however, the city is missing out on a great opportunity here. Don’t make it a mall kiosk: Make it a full, gigantic smartphone. Have people swipe a credit card and be able to call somebody over speaker. Install a camera and have some massive FaceTime. Put some kicking bass into that thing and then tie it to YouTube. Load them up with games and make it a de-facto street-corner arcade cabinet.
Seriously, there’s a lot of amazing potential here. Yeah, we know, tourists, putting the best face on the city, whatever. We want to see what underground rappers and street artists could do with a string of these things. Set them free, Mayor Bloomberg. Set them free.