You had to see this one coming. It’s a sign of the times, really. Think of all the things we use in our daily life that we interact with via touch. Why should a subway map in New York City be any different, right? This year, they’re in the process of rolling out over 90 of these touchscreen subway maps throughout some of the most traveled parts of the city. They’ll serve more than 2 million travelers every day.
So how do they work? Each screen is essentially a 47-inch TV encased in steel for protection. (Yes, they can handle the 120-degree temps in the subway on hot summer days.) The interface is simple: tap once on your destination to tell the system where you want to go and it’ll plot your route on the map, including any transfers. That’s it.
As you might expect, the interactive maps will display paid advertising as well (like everywhere else you look in the Big Apple). According to Fast Company, ad revenue for the MTA is over $100 million a year. Call it annoying, call it obnoxious, but hey, those trains don’t pay for themselves.
Worried about sanitation? If tens of thousands of people are touching each screen every day, that could get dirty with the quickness, right? Consider this: for decades, payphones were how people communicated away from home or work. If you dialed a regular, local number, you were pressing 7 buttons, then lifting a filthy dirty phone up to your face. These new subway maps, as mentioned above, only require one “press” of your finger — on your destination. Additionally, the Control Group, the company responsible for deploying the screens, gave the following statement about it:
One of the principles of our design was to minimize touch and gestures with one click navigation. Also, the DST display works with any object–finger, nail, pen, etc. And the screen is in waterproof enclosure to enable regular cleaning. And just like the thousands of Metrocard machines in the NYC subway system that feature a touchscreen, the MTA will maintain the new kiosks.
Welcome to the future, my friends. We’re already here.
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