What Is the Future of the New York City Payphone?

The Shortlisted Ideas in the 'Reinvent Payphones' Design Challenge

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Imagine this: the 11,412 payphones in New York City all turned into digital nodes that let you pay bills, pay for parking, call a cab and otherwise act as a data network to foster communication between New Yorkers and their city.

That's what Titan, a sales company, and Control Group, a tech and design firm, are proposing with "NYC I/O, The Responsive City," an idea submitted to New York City's Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge. The idea won the "Community Impact Award" during a demo day for the challenge, and is one of the six winners that will now be put to a public vote via Facebook.

The idea turns the payphone into a digital input/output system -- citizens input information and get back results, while all the data is used to improve New York City infrastructure.

Other shortlisted ideas from the contest include Beacon, which turns the payphone into a voice and gesture-controlled (good for germaphobes) communication device; Windchimes, which turns payphones into real-time recording devices for the city's environmental conditions; and NYFi, which turn them into WiFi hotspots.

The contest will eventually spur ideas for the issuance of an RFP for the city's payphone contract.

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