- Public phone booths have become obsolete.
- Adding smartphone-like capabilities to old booths could revive their purpose.
- Displays point users to shops and tourists attractions and warn of transportation snarls.
If cell phones have rendered public phone booths obsolete, adding smartphone-like capabilities to the booths may bring them back. New York City-based media company City 24x7 is starting a pilot program in May that will install sophisticated Internet-enabled touch-screen machines in existing phone booths.
"We think it's an innovative way of using existing street infrastructure," said Nicholas Sbordone, a spokesman for the city's Information Technology and Telecommunications department.
Each 32-inch machine will display different content, depending on where it is. The machines will point users toward local restaurants, tourist attractions and deals at local businesses and warn them of nearby traffic snarls and subway changes, the New York Post reported.
Just like city park signs and subway changes notices today, they'll use several languages. Beyond the features the Post mentioned, the screens will also have HD cameras and microphones, increasing city officials' surveying capabilities, according to City 24x7's website.