Wired phones are a thing of the past. More and more homes, especially the homes of young professionals, don’t even have wired lines anymore. Mobile devices have all but eliminated the need for them. Payphones are even more obsolete, but they still exist in large numbers, especially in New York City.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg began an initiative called Reinvent Payphones, which aims to utilize the existent payphone infrastructure, and create something that the millions of people who live in/visit New York will use. You can check out this great post on Tech Hive to see what kind of great prototypes made the finals!
I’m personally a big fan of the NYFi design, which won the Best Connectivity award:
(Images courtesy NYC Digital)
NYFi is “an interactive portal to public information, goods, and services, a hub for free wireless internet access, and an open infrastructure for future applications.” As a bit of an iOS fanboy, I enjoy the fact that they borrowed (at least in these mockups) Apple’s mobile interface, but I swear that’s not my deciding factor! From a technical standpoint, it remains quite simple by integrating applications that already exist for mobile devicies.
In terms of functionality, it seems the most practical. Not only does it act as a mobile hotspot, it also performs a the tasks currently performed by many different kiosks and machines including bus ticket machines, Muni Meters, MetroCard machines, assistance kiosks, and bicycle share stations. It can also be used to read a map, do a quick Google search, and even hail a cab.
And, if you so need it, it functions as a payphone as well.
Which prototype do you like the most?