The Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge was launched late last year to upgrade and replaces NYC’s still-ubiquitous network of 11,412 public payphones. After sifting through more than 125 entries and several rounds of judging, officials announced the six finalists who are now competing for public votes to decide NYC’s next payphone design and function. Two entries tied for “best community impact,” including “Windchimes,” a maker-made project conceived by ITP students that is more about sensors and environmental data than slick touch-screen interfaces.

Windchimes are environmental sensor stations that talk through payphones. They can plug directly into existing technologies and communication infrastructure, making them low cost and immediately deployable. We imagined New York City’s existing 11,000 payphones as a distributed sensor network providing real-time and hyper-local records of the city’s rain levels, pollution and other environmental conditions.

View all six finalists and vote for your favorite project here. Voting ends on March 15, 2013.

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[via HuffPo & TechCrunch]