The Pay Phones Of The Future

The future pay phone of New York City may be much more than just a place to shove in a quarter to make a call. Earlier this week, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the five winning pay phone prototypes from the city-sponsored Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge. Voters (that could be you!) have until March 15 to vote on a popular choice winner.

From the 125 entries received, 11 semi-finalists were chosen to present their designs before a panel of judges that included a few big names: Ben Kaufman, founder and CEO of; Andrew McLaughlin, entrepreneur in residence at Betaworks; Majora Carter, founder of Startup Box; Jason Goodman, CEO and co-founder of 3rd Ward; Nancy Lublin, CEO of; and former United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck.

The prototypes were based on their ability to connect New Yorkers and enable communication for safety and emergency purposes, the visual appeal and user experience, functionality, community impact and creativity.

Among the winners were NYFi (much more about that phone here); Beacon, which broadcasts emergencies on the big screen and is solar powered and Windchimes, which measures the area’s noise, pollution and temperature.

Sadly, none of these designs will actually be used to replace New York City’s pay phone, Rahul Merchant, the head of NYC’s IT department told WNYC.

But they are said to inspire future payphones–and at least they still are pretty cool to look at?NM