NYFI Wins NYC’s Reinventing Payphones Contest

March 17, 2013 by Dave Haynes


A slim digital tower with swappable modules that makes free WiFi ubiquitous has won New York City’s Reinventing the Payphone – the winner weirdly selected based on a public vote via Facebook.

Democratic, sure. Best method to award on merit, strategy and feasibility? Hmmm.

Anyway, the NYFI is intended to be, says the city’s Tumblr blog, “an interactive portal to public information, goods, and services, a hub for free wireless internet access, and an open infrastructure for future applications.”

The NYFi features two interfaces and a simple touch activates the height sensitive interactive zone on either face.  Two models of the NYFi are proposed: a ten foot model for commercial and manufacturing districts and a smaller model for residential and historic districts where payphones have not traditionally been permitted.  When not in use, the default display in commercial areas is interactive advertising and, in residential neighborhoods, way-finding and local interest posts.  Its narrow profile minimizes sidewalk obstruction and improves safety and storefront visibility.


As an all-around communications hub, the NYFi has every expanding uses due to an open software platform that takes advantage of apps already created for smartphones and tablets.  The combination of NYFi’s modular hardware and flexible software can replace the hodgepodge of single-function street appliances that currently litter the sidewalk such as bus ticket machines, Muni Meters, MetroCard machines, assistance kiosks, bicycle share stations and of course, payphones.  In this way, these nodes can be modified and upgraded over time to adapt to the changing needs of the city and take advantage of new technologies that will emerge.


I think the modular piece is clever, though I wonder on a street that has parking meters and bike share stations and ticket machines how this unit would consolidate all that.

I also wonder whether this will ever get past the imagineering stage.


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