Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office
New York City is on a mission to build a better payphone for the digital age. A few months ago, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a design challenge with the Reinvent Payphones initiative. The goal: crowdsource ways to revitalize and upgrade the city’s 11,000 payphones.
Just last night, the city announced the six winning prototypes. Some of the submissions imagined payphone kiosks with air pollution sensors, solar-powered cell phone chargers, and screens controlled by hand gestures and voice commands.
The city judged the prototypes based on connectivity, creativity, visual design, functionality, and community impact.
New York City’s contracts for its payphones expire in October 2014. The winners of the Reinvent Payphone Design Challenge aren’t guaranteed contracts, but the city will take those designs into consideration when determining what to do with New York’s payphones.
Already, the city has converted some payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots. And in November 2012, it replaced 10 booths in Union Square with touchscreens for maps, public service announcements, and entertainment listings.
The NYFi would consolidate a bunch of city apps and services into one kiosk. For example, we could buy metro cards, access information about local businesses, and use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
NYFi won the award for connectivity.
NYC Loop's prototype walked away with the Best in Creativity award.
On one side of the kiosk, an interactive image projector could display information and even art on a sidewalk. On the other side, the team envisions an electric car charging station, a bench and garden, or even bicycle parking.
Inside, people would be able to make phone calls without much interruption, as it features sound harmonizing technology to block out some of the outside noise.
Here, it highlights the booth's Wi-Fi capabilities. Additionally, it envisions piezoelectric pressure plates to convert kinetic energy into electric energy, effectively powering the Loop.
The upper screens would be for ad purposes and adapt to public events happening in the city. During the NYC marathon, for example, the screen would feature mileage markers and themed banners.
The lower screens would serve the local community, feature hyper local advertising and community message boards, and telephone functionality.
People could control it with their voices without the need to ever touch anything.
The Beacon could also serve as an information kiosk in times of an emergency. It would offer updates on critical city services, evacuation instructions, and directions to shelters.
Beacon won best visual design.
Windchimes could provide real-time, local data of the city's rain levels, pollution, and other environmental factors.
It could help you plan your bike commute so that the wind is constantly pushing you along, and even help a parent care for their asthmatic child using Windchimes' air-quality metrics.
'We created Windchimes because we wanted to empower the city with data that it's never captured before,' the team recently wrote on Tumblr. 'Scientists, city officials, urban farmers, techies, educators, and parents could all benefit from the data collected.'
Windchimes tied with NYC I/O for community impact.
Smart Sidewalks won 'Best Functionality.' The solar-powered kiosk is incredibly thin and its display extends onto the city's sidewalks.
It features two user interfaces: one for the vertical component, and another for the sidewalk.
In the vertical component, Smart Sidewalks would offer local information, maps, web browsing functionality, and apps. People could also adjust the height of the display using hand gestures. On the side of the kiosk, you'd be able to plug in your phone via USB to get a quick charge.
For the sidewalk, LED displays would help people navigate the city and even receive push notifications for guided tours.
NYC I/O wants you to be able to request a cab, pay for parking tickets, and receive vital city information on a touchscreen kiosk
Control Group and Titan teamed up to create NYC I/O to make the city more responsive. Their prototype effectively transforms the payphone into a communication platform for the city and its residents.
'By updating the payphone with a modern array of sensors and displays to create a foundational input/output system for an open, urban-scale computing platform, we can allow New York City to respond to and serve the people,' the team recently wrote on Tumblr. 'Through open access to real time data and a distribution platform for community, civic, arts and commercial apps and messaging, we can create a safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable city.'
NYC I/O tied with Windchimes for community impact.
Here, you would be able to track the status of your cab, charge your electric car, get transit directions, or just make a good old-fashioned phone call.
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