New York City’s subway system is getting 90 gigantic touchscreens — basically really big limited-function iPads — that will help riders (and penguins) navigate the trains. Touch a station and the map will tell you how to get there! It’s sort of like a giant Hopstop, except you can touch it.
(Some people are inevitably not going to be happy about being asked to touch things that other riders have had their grubby hands all over. Here’s our take: If you are that worried about germs, do not go on the subway. Or if you do, hold your breath.)
At launch, the screens will feature all sorts of content, like delays, outages, and, of course, ads (which bring in $100 million in revenue for the MTA each year, but mostly in paper signage) … Into the future, this map will feature points of interest to simplify the experience for tourists. Thanks to a robust backend with heavy analytics at work, the MTA will quickly be able to prioritize which spots should be the most prominently featured by which are tapped most frequently, and these spots could even be changed by season. For instance, Rockefeller Center might be a more prominent attraction in the winter, when the tree is up and tourists are skating below Prometheus.
Is there any better indication that New York City’s transformation is near complete? The city wants to put a bunch of things that are breakable, potentially graffiti-able, and, we’re guessing, quite expensive into the subway system. You can chalk that up to the general feeling of safety in the city.
Or you can chalk it up to the fact that these things will be equipped with cameras and that if you so much as look at it wrong, someone will know. Hey, this is the future, after all. It’s cool. But it’s also creepy as hell.