For many, mobile devices have made the corner payphone a thing of the past. The City of New York asked for a fresh concept that would help make future booths more useful to city inhabitants and lucrative for operators.
To imagine a new form of urban infrastructure, frog looked at city services from a pedestrian's perspective. From easily translated neighborhood maps for tourists, to a bright light that can be used to signal cabs, Beacon presents contextual information when and where it matters.
To allow citizens and businesses to connect, frog conceived of an open platform and that lets customers display simple ads on Beacons throughout the city, acting as a friendly neighborhood message board. A demand-based pricing model ensures that advertising in low traffic areas is much cheaper than Times Square. Sophisticated microphones and sensors capture voice and gesture for hygenic, touch-free operation. And for a city like New York, in which over 800 languages are spoken, the system translates and localizes content and news.
Energy-efficient and durable, the stainless steel structures also play a critical role in public safety. Beacon's redundant technologies, including a solar-powered LED-matrix, keep it connected when other communication services are down. Evacuation instructions and local updates can be broadcast on screen, offering a vital link to official information in moments confusion.
Beacon was awarded "best visual design and user experience" by New York City officials in late 2012.