A kiosk, also known as an interactive kiosk, is a publicly accessible computer system that has been set up to allow for interactive information browsing. The major benefit of the kiosk is that it provides access to web applications or specialized electronic service functions without being attended by a human being. The kiosk has evolved from the early telephone booth model and they often resemble this type of design, however more modern designs provide more ergonomic access structures such as a bench or chair. Ideally vendors who utilize a kiosk will target high traffic areas such as a hotel lobby or an airport in order to maximize the resources provided by the kiosk. Modern day kiosks are integrated with all sorts of technological functions, mostly geared toward self service based functions. Often times these kiosks have specialized components such as thermal printers, coin hoppers, or card readers which allow it's customers to perform a transactional operation usually in exchange for some type of merchandise. The first commercial kiosk to be developed and put into service was had an internet connection and was displayed at Comdex. The kiosk was used to located missing children.
In 1995 the Los Alamos National Laboratory drafted documentation which detailed what the interactive kiosk consisted of. The first network of kiosk systems was utilized by shoe company Florsheim Shoe Co. However most of today's kiosk resemble a cross between a vending machine and a telephone booth with an internet terminal and sometimes complex robotic internal components. Typcial services offered by the kiosk include self-checkout lanes, electronic ticket services, internet access, mapping, and generic vending services.
Kiosks Implemented by Government and Private Organizations
Kiosks have been implemented in many countries on a wide scale basis. Such kiosks are being used by the United Kingdom and provide job seeking and employment services. In the United States the Department of Homeland Security has created kiosks that allow visitors to register when they enter the United States. They can also use these kiosks to to register when they leave the country as well. Internal operations for the government have utilized kiosks as well, such as the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal service maintains a human resources system that helps their employees to stay updated on training requirements as well as monitor their pay and benefit packages.
Within private industry there are over 131,000 kiosks operating within the U.S. Examples of this technology can be seen in shopping malls, airlines, and department stores. You might take note the next time you see a kiosk in a department store which processess digital photos and provides printing and cataloging services; this is a good example of a commercially available kiosk.
Different Types of Kiosks
The following is a list which explains in brief detail some of the more common forms of kiosks one might encounter:
Telekiosk is the succesor to the phone booth, and it includes many of the services the old phone booth provided with value added services such as email, fax, instant messaging, and internet access.
The financial services kiosk is perhaps the most common type of kiosk and the most widely used. They are usually in the form of the automatic teller machine (ATM) which provides cash dispersal and banking services. More sophisticated machines exist that provide additional services such as bill payment and check cashing. These financial kiosk are also referred to as "multi function financial service kiosks."
The photo kiosk is a machine which has quickly gained popularity because of its convenience and popularity of services. The photo kiosk will allow you to print pictures from digital images and can retrieve these media from varied sources such as flash drives, memory cards, and cd-roms. Sometimes these kiosks work as a gateway to a more advanced photo minilab which can schedule printshop appoitnments and multiset orders allowing for printshop service providers to increase customer volume. Some photo kiosks provide only simple printing services but appeal to a unique demographic such as in Japan where they can get customized images printed into the foreground or background and printed on the spot within a matter of seconds.
The ticketing kiosk is used in many transport service locations such as train stations, airports, and bus stations. The convieniance and self service option appeals to many customers and reduces wait times and streamlines customer processing, while reducing costs for businesses. These ticketing kiosks are also used for amusement parks such as Walt-Disney and also in parking garages.
Reliability is perhaps the most important aspect of the kiosk, these kiosks tend to provide important services which are critical to the operation of a business and their downtime or security lapse could be very negative for the bottom line and reputation of company. As a result applications have been developed to increase the security and reliabilty of these stations which will prevent users from uploading or downloading computer viruses or stealing data from other customers. The sophisitcation of these software tools is ever developing and will have to adapt as new technologies are introduced to the market and customer demand and expectation changes.
The Kiosk Manufacturing Industry
Typically kiosks are a stand alone enclosure that provides some kind of service, usually based on prompts and through gathering user input. In the mainstream market for kiosk vendors, KIOSK Information Systems is the market share leader according to Frost and Sullivan 2008 Report. The majority of kiosks are developed for the retail and financial services sector. These kiosks typcially are composed of a touch screen based, or keypad intergrated system that is POS related or transaction system based. Market segments for kiosk and self service terminals include photo booths, government, airline industry, human resourcne, and financial services.
Links to Examples of Kiosks