250 high-tech 'smart pay phones' set to invade New York City

New taxi's with odor-absorbing seats aren't the only upgrades New York City is getting. The Big Apple's 12,800 decaying public pay phones could be replaced with large touchscreens that are good for making more than just voice calls. One day, you might be tweeting from one of these "smart pay phones."

When the cellphone revolution hit its peak in the mid-'90s, it became clear that public pay phones would slowly become obsolete. Really, pre-paid cellphones can be had in some places for $10 and that's with a basic mobile phone included.

A company called City24x7 wants to revive the pay phone's role as an integral part of New York City with "smart" touchscreen booths. As part of a pilot program, it plans to install 250 32-inch displays that let citizens make Skype calls (video ones too), search for restaurant info, get shopping discount info, updates on traffic and safety alerts. The booths will even act as Wi-Fi hotspots.

Basically, the smart pay phones are glorified kiosks — only they'll be on street corners and not in shopping malls. New York City's department of Information Technology & Telecommunications says that if the City24x7's pilot program is successful, the city could see all of its old pay phones receive the upgrade.

But don't think you'll be able to sneak into one of these pay phone booths and view some quick smut. The Internet access will be restricted and monitored to prevent anyone from visiting any NSFW sites.

Worried about how clean the touchscreens will be? They're public touchscreens, what do you think?

Details on how much and how long a session lasts hasn't been announced yet, but we're down for more universal access to information. We're not sure we'd ever touch a filthy public pay phone (touchscreens do get germy quite fast), but tourists might find them hand. Tourists love kiosks — especially smart ones. "Look ma, I'm in Times Square! Can ya see the ?"

YouTube, via Gothamist

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