Some 250 phone booths around New York City are getting a new lease on life — the New York Post is reporting that the city is planning to install 32-inch, internet-connected touchscreen displays in these old booths. The initial pilot rollout will begin next month, with the hopes that eventually, all 12,800 of the city's pay phones will be replaced by "smart screens." These won't exactly be open terminals (though they will be free, with money generated through advertising) — initially, these screens will display local neighborhood info like nearby restaurants, stores, attractions, and safety alerts, all in a number of languages. Eventually, the smart screens will also be able to use services like Skype, serve as Wi-Fi hotspots, and let users check email, but that won't be available during the pilot.
For those concerned that these touchscreen booths will be a disgusting, germ-filled affair, City 24x7 (who is installing and developing the screens) notes that they should be cleaner than the average ATM — and will be able to be hosed down to be cleaned, thanks to a waterproof design. While it sounds like these screens will be useful to tourists and locals alike, they'll also benefit the city — once this plan is fully implemented, New York City will take a 36 percent cut of all ad revenue.