If a kid from Gen Z or Gen Alpha walks by an old telephone booth (in the few places in the world where there are still some around), they would probably look at it in wonder or confusion. In fact, some millenials may have never used or seen one since it’s already considered a “relic”. But there’s still a way to recreate these previously useful booths and create one that is perfect for the digital generation and their mobile needs. And you can even be earth-friendly about it.
Shangai is probably one of the “smartest” cities in the world and it’s about to get even smarter as they might be rolling out a new kind of phone booth. Instead of just letting people make phone calls when they drop coins, this new structure will have all the digital conveniences that a commuter, tourist, or even residents may need. It still retains some of the aesthetics of a phone booth including the red color, a boxy shape, a sloped roof. But this time around you get a solar panel roof and other functionalities.
The digitalized phone kiosks has Wi-Fi hotspots so those who don’t have data can stand near it or inside it and get connected. You can also wirelessly charge your mobile devices for when you run out of juice. You also get 5G transceivers and USB connectivity. For tourists and commuters, there are city maps on the touch screen and you can even access taxi-hailing services there. There’s also something for the elderly as there’s face recognition (there might be privacy/security issues there) and a panic button if there’s an emergency.
Oh and yes, you can also make a phone call from the booth as there’s a free service that gives you three minutes. And since this will probably be a structure that will draw attention, there’s a “selfie” wall with headphones and eyeglasses so you can take pictures or have your picture taken. If this catches on, we might see some of these reimagined phone booths in other parts of the world.