New York City challenges the public to reinvent the payphone

The city of New York is looking to reinvent the antiquated payphone, a device that has gone largely unchanged functionally since its invention and has been mostly sidelined due to the advent of mobile phones. To do this, the city is hosting Reinvent Payphones, an event that seeks to find the evolution of the payphone.

The idea is people will come up with ideas on how to improve payphones in the city and submit the ideas to a panel of judges. These judges will then decide who has the best idea, with fifteen proposals picked to present before the judges on March 3, 2013 and three winners picked from there. It isn’t entirely clear what prize the winners will receive.

First off, let me say I like the fact that instead of putting out a modern-looking touchscreen payphone that does nothing new, the city sees the opportunity to beyond the obvious. What better way to do that than by essentially crowdsourcing it? We all know that great ideas can come out of this approach, and NYC seems to be betting on that to happen here. The locations for the payphones can be outfitted with fiber connections, allowing for increased functionality through the Internet, for example. And, of course, there must be some thing that makes people want to use payphones as opposed to their mobile phones.

My suggestion? A do-it-all kiosk where you can access the Internet and charge your devices, with shortcuts to contact the police or fire department in case of emergencies, all in a nice capacitive widescreen interface that has a virtual keyboard that doesn’t suck. Oh, and when you make calls, the audio comes from speakers built into the booth. Obvious? Maybe. But sometimes obvious isn’t a bad thing — the charge capability alone will attract patrons.

Do you have any ideas to reinvent the payphone? Post them in the comments!

[via Engadget]

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  • ds5929

    Make’m vandal-proof. Anything else is moot. And, on the other note,screw Apple. Always.

  • chuck

    @Ashraf: @Ashraf: No-just what I think it will become.There will probably be a Facebook app to share your calls-Google will collect all of your info related to those calls,and then,Apple will sue the manufacturer because of some similarity to one of their portable devices.Just wait and see.

  • kelltic

    For Ashraf’s phones: $5.00 per call. $2.00 to charge a device. $1.50 to play a tune. Subscription $20.00 per year.

  • Ashraf

    @chuck: Are you really ranting against… payphones? xD

  • chuck

    Of course there will be a large high-def screen,so it can run advertisements when it’s not in use.
    Oh,wait…there will probably be pop up ads while using it.I’m sure Apple will want first crack at those.Another patent perhaps?? Or the MTA pissing and moaning about it keeps losing revenue.Then there will be sound bites from Bloomberg speeches,just because that little prick loves to hear himself talk!
    Need 911 service? First you’ll have to take a brief survey on “how do rate the new pay-phones”
    Rant complete.