New York rolls out first SmartScreens, breathing new life into city’s public phone booths

new york rolls out first smartscreens breathing life into citys public phone booths manhattanPhone booths around New York City are being given a new lease of life, with the roll out on Tuesday of the first of many City24/7 public information systems incorporating interactive touchscreens, free for all to use.

Cisco, which operates the new service in partnership with City24/7, said New York is the first city in the US to have its public phone booths given the makeover, which involves the installation of large 32-inch touchscreens highlighting local news, local deals, entertainment listings and more. Information can also be fed from the so-called SmartScreens direct to a user’s smartphone. Free Wi-Fi access is also offered by the high-tech booths.

Around 250 new booths will be appearing across the city’s five boroughs over the next few months, with the first 10 opening to the public on Tuesday in existing phone booths around Union Square. The plan is to bring them to more US cities, as well as several international locations, some time next year.

The new-look booths are equipped with a number of accessibility features, including screen repositioning for wheelchair accessibility and headphone access for the hearing impaired. Multiple languages are also available, including English, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.

President and CEO of City24/7 Tom Touchet said of the new system, “Our network is built on the idea that you should be able to connect and activate information through any device – anywhere. We’re excited to help power daily communications to the streets of New York, and to immediately and directly give back to the communities we serve.”

Although described as “ruggedized”, it’s not certain precisely how robust the SmartScreens are – hopefully they’ll be able to withstand a pinch and a poke, as well as a hefty head butt, from a determined vandal. But as British comedian John Cleese once said, “It’s not that payphones don’t work because they’ve been vandalised. They’ve been vandalised because they don’t work.” So hopefully City24/7’s tech will operate glitch-free and be of benefit to the local community for a long time to come.

[Source: Marketwire] [Image: Songquang Deng / Shutterstock]

Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Mobile

Qualcomm's 3D Sonic fingerprint sensor could make your next phone more secure

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: First 5G phone, Batcole Foundation, and a new data breach

Tuesday on Digital Trends Live, Greg Nibler discussed trending topics such as the Quora data breach, and Jeremy Kaplan was joined by Katie Linendoll from the Batcole Foundation to discuss the benefits of AR and VR in hospital rooms.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!