Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Athena Software Intake Kiosk Provides Easy and Confidential Collection of Data for Counseling Centers

"Athena Software today announced the introduction of A-Kiosk designed for use at counseling centers that want a fast, convenient method to collect individual information. A-Kiosk works with new or existing installations of Athena Software to maximize use of resources and offer more effective programs and services for counseling, family services, mental health centers and EAP providers by allowing clients to begin their own intake process and enter information directly into the system. In addition, to saving time and streamlining the intake process, the confidentiality afforded by A-Kiosk helps to make clients feel more comfortable about identifying the nature and details of their service request.

"The A-Kiosk is being used by the University of Waterloo to provide easier access and more coverage to the student population. “Athena’s A-Kiosk makes it easy to intake thousands of students each year."

An interesting read, the rest of which can be found here.

Little IBM kiosk makes a big splash

From ThomasNet Industrial News:

"Manufactured with open system design, [the] IBM Anyplace Kiosk offers flexible configuration in space-saving form factor. It comes with choice of 12 in., 800 x 600 LCD or 15 in., 1024 x 768 active matrix LCD touchscreen interface. Powered by 1.3 GHz Intel™ Celeron® M Processor 320 with 400 MHz FSB and 512 KB cache, product provides 256 MB of memory, expandable to 2 GB, and supports full-motion video. Presence sensor allows activation of kiosk when users approach up to 5 ft away.
"IBM Anyplace Kiosk solutions are designed for style and engineered for performance, enabling you to run self-service applications in virtually any environment. Created to help withstand the rigors of unattended use, the new models of the IBM Anyplace Kiosk family feature an all-new, space-saving form factor, IR touchscreen, multiple peripheral, and third-party enclosure options. The new Anyplace Omni Scanner is a high-performance scanner designed specifically for the IBM Anyplace Kiosk. The adaptive, multipattern scan engine packs power and performance into one of the smallest packages available. In addition, the new models are multimedia ready. This comprehensive IBM Anyplace Kiosk family facilitates easy, rapid implementation while its compact design is ideal where space is at a premium."

Having worked with some of these for a few weeks now myself, I must say that they're pretty impressive. You can read the rest of the specifications here.

Self-service for the visual and hearing impaired

When the New York Times writes, we listen:

"New technologies, including airport check-in kiosks and Web-based reservations systems, have been heavily promoted by the travel industry as conveniences for customers. Unfortunately, they are not convenient for all customers.

"Self-service airline terminals can be difficult or impossible to use for people with mobility, visual or hearing impairments. The same goes for hotel kiosks. And Web sites that are not carefully coded can be rendered useless to blind travelers who are using special screen readers to get access.

"These shortcomings shut out more travelers than commonly thought. The latest census reported that one in five Americans have a 'long-lasting condition or disability,' including 9.3 million people with sight or hearing loss.
"The California Legislature is considering a bill that would require all self-service kiosks installed or renovated after Jan. 1, 2010, to be fully accessible to the blind, but it is encountering opposition from the lodging industry, which claims the law would be too expensive to implement. Southwest Airlines recently prevailed in a case that would have required it to make its Web site more accessible to the visually impaired."

You can read the whole article here (registration required)

Supermarkets spend big on self-checkout

According to KioskMarketplace:

"Supermarkets plan to increase spending on self-checkout systems and workforce management software in the next 12 months, according to a new report from IHL Consulting Group, retail analyst and consultancy firm."

Some of the key findings include:

  • Thirty-one percent of the sample planned to install self-checkout systems in 2005 and a total of 50 percent plan to do so by June 2006.
  • Grocers are planning to upgrade to self-checkout before replacing aging POS hardware. Once self-checkout is installed, POS hardware and software are their next big purchase in most cases.
  • There is a shift in the purchase intentions of POS systems. Forty-three percent now say they will buy POS hardware and software from different vendors in their next purchase.
  • Forty-four percent are planning new workforce management solutions in the next year and more than 40 percent are planning new kiosk implementations at the store level by June 2006.
You can read the complete article here (though it doesn't include the rest of the report, obviously :)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Canterbury Park tries kiosks and digital signs

And here I wasn't even aware that there was a Minneapolis home for horce racing, but there must be, because:

"The Minneapolis home for horse racing is now stepping into the digital age with a new approach to marketing; promoting this classic sport with new age technology.

"Canterbury Park , a gaming and racetrack facility located in Shakopee, Minn. has entered the first phase towards the implementation of digital signage by installing two kiosk displays at the Minneapolis International Airport (MSP). These displays will be used to promote upcoming events at Canterbury Park featuring video clips and information for visitors about their facility's services.

"Canterbury Park is now in the second phase of their installation which calls for additional monitors, ranging in size from 42 to 50 inches, to be installed at their facility in Shakopee, Minn."

You can read the complete article here.

Touchmonitors aim for mini kiosks

According to Elo Touchsystems:

"Mini kiosks are the perfect choice for applications such as shelf-edge information displays, price checkers, payment terminals, shopping assistants, digital photo stations and gift registries.

"The 1247L and 1229L 12in LCD touchmonitors from Elo TouchSystems, the global leader in touch technology and a business unit of Tyco Electronics, are ideally suited to complement this rise in POD kiosks.

"Mini kiosks are often a quarter to half the footprint and cost of traditional full-sized kiosks and can be incorporated into existing retail layouts, including pole- or shelf-mounts.

"This smaller footprint and reduced cost make mini kiosks a valuable option not only for large retailers, but also for smaller locations where both of these criteria can be especially restrictive."

You can read the full article here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hilton kiosks improve upsells by 30%

BTN had a recent interview with Hilton CEO Matt Hart, who among other things, had this to say about their interactive kiosk project:

"Hart: We love the kiosk. We've been very successful from the start. I've read a lot of stuff that says that for other hotel companies it's just not working. It may be that their original architecture just was not customer-friendly and it didn't work. Thanks to our technology guys, it works. At some of our properties, particularly at the airports, we're up to 30 percent kiosk checkin. For us, it's not a labor-saving thing; it's not a style thing. We spend millions of dollars training our people to anticipate customer needs, to be friendly, to be caring to get an emotional connection, but the fact of the matter is: Some people when they travel just don't want to make friends. That's okay by us. If they want to use the kiosks, then that is fine. One of the interesting things we find, we give the customer the opportunity to upgrade and people are more likely to upgrade using the kiosk than they are face to face. That's fine with us. It's a nice feature for a lot of people. Think about the airlines now, that's how you do business. Put your credit card in, get your boarding pass: That's just the way it is. For us to give that same opportunity with hotel guests makes all the sense in the world."

You can read the full interview here.

Delta puts check-in kiosk at Avis

"Avis Rent A Car System and Delta Air Lines have announced the introduction of the first remote airport flight check-in kiosk at a rental car location.

"The new service offers Delta and Avis customers at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport the option of checking in while returning their rental cars.

"The new kiosks, at the Avis shuttle bus stop, incorporate Delta's online check-in option in a touch screen format. After using them, customers get dropped off at the terminal and head straight for security with boarding pass in hand."

You can read all the details here.

Putting internet content to use on kiosks

KioskMarketplace has a good article online about the pros and cons of repurposing existing Internet content for use on interactive kiosks. A short snip:

"To someone approaching kiosk design for the first time, it almost seems like a no-brainer. You’re designing an interactive, self-service computer system, one in which the user guides the experience. You already have tons of content on the company Web site. So why not just port it over to the kiosk, and be done with it?

Indeed, many companies have done just that, and those kiosks — by and large — languish for want of use and value. Web content and kiosk content, although they may overlap in places, are two entirely different beasts — and it is important to keep those differences in mind when designing the customer experience."

I highly recommend you rest the rest of the article here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Holographic display projects picking up speed

"HoloDeem, Inc. of Kirkland, Wash., recently introduced the HoloDeem Coupon Machine, a three-sided kiosk about the size of a refrigerator. Shoppers walking by the front of the machine see 3-D holographic aerial images and video. The images appear to float in space. The company calls them holo-ads and holo-mercials. Computer touch screens mounted on both sides of the kiosk give shoppers an opportunity to learn more about the holo-advertised products and receive coupons.

"The HoloDeem company claims that when used in tests, the Coupon Machine increased the sales of participating products by as much as 35 percent. The company believes the timing is right. Shoppers have experience using ATM kiosks and photo kiosks. And supermarkets use kiosks for self-checkout, deli ordering and coin-counting."

Read the full article here.

Kiosk company Info Touch announces Q3 2005 financial results

Info Touch Technologies Corp., provider of self-service bill payment and financial service solutions, announced in a news release operating results for the third quarter ended April 30, 2005.

The company continued to focus its efforts on the marketing and expansion of the "TIO" network, which provides financial services for the for under-banked community, expanded the E-Wiz kiosk program with ExxonMobil with a deployment to Charlotte, N.C., deployed the Tulsa and Oklahoma markets with Kum & Go LLC and deployed the Buffalo, N.Y., market with NOCO Express. In total, 86 kiosks were deployed bringing the total number of kiosks in the network to 495.

Highlights (Q3 2005 vs. Q3 2004):

  • Rate of kiosk deployments increased by 125 percent
  • Total transactions increased by 106 percent
  • Total recurring revenue increased by 71 percent

Revenue for the quarter ended April 30, 2005 increased 34 percent to $1,959,661, from revenue of $1,463,433 in Q3 2004. Total recurring revenue for Q3 2005, including transaction services and maintenance services revenue, increased 71 percent and accounted for $1,719,601 or 88 percent of total revenue, compared to $1,007,741 or 69 percent for the quarter ended April 30, 2004. The company did not report profits for the period.

You can find more information here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More on McDonald's in-store DVD rental kiosks

Here's a clip from a great article on CNN about McDonald's DVD rental kiosks:

"[T]he fast-food giant is testing a national DVD rental service, reported Monday -- the same day that Minneapolis-St. Paul became the fifth market where McDonald's customers can rent a flick for $1 a day.

"According to, McDonald's plans to make the service available in 10 markets by year-end, raising the prospect that consumers one day could travel across country watching the latest releases while noshing on Big Macs.

"McDonald's is testing the service through its Redbox subsidiary and will install DVD kiosks not just at its restaurants but also at grocers, which the online technology news site did not identify."

The source article may be found here.

Kiosk Use Growing Fast For Hotels And Airlines

"The travel industry's love affair with kiosks continues to grow. This week, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts joined the ranks of major hoteliers that are rolling out the self-service devices, and NCR Corp. subsidiary Kinetics introduced a multiairline check-in kiosk application designed for deployment at offsite locations.

"Toronto-based Fairmont is launching its effort with a 10-week trial at its Fairmont Royal York property in Toronto, after which it will begin deploying the units at its urban business hotels, VP of technology Vineet Gupta says. "First we want to concentrate on where the business traveler goes, because we think that's where the pickup will be fastest," Gupta says. "Business travelers are always in a hurry." About two-thirds of the 45 Fairmont properties are urban business hotels, while the rest are vacation resorts."
"Elsewhere, the airline industry, which has seen rapid adoption of airport check-in kiosks, is branching out beyond airport borders. In addition to efforts like Air Canada's integration with Fairmont's kiosks, the new kiosk application from Kinetics could make self-service flight check-in ubiquitous at hotels, car-rental stations, cruise-line ports, parking garages, and other locations where travelers congregate."

Read the full article here.

Kiosk based parking meters?

According to ePaynews:

"Kiosk-based parking meters are one of the biggest remaining untapped markets for kiosk and payments providers, particularly in North America, according to industry insiders. Five to six IT firms are rolling out parking meters in US cities, with one vendor, Parkeon, citing Seattle as the latest to deploy its kiosks. The city, which now has over 500 parking kiosks, envisions increasing this to 1,200 to 1,600 machines to replace 9,000 meters by 2008 at a per-unit cost of USD 6,600 and will be the first to use online credit card authorization for parking payments on a mass scale.

"Parking kiosks are said to have a 98 to 99 per cent reliability rate versus 80 to 90 per cent for meters, and to increase revenues by 20 to 40 per cent on average without a hike in rates. In North America, parking is a multi-billion dollar industry and New York has over 1,500 parking kiosks, Portland 1,000 and Toronto more than 2,000 with deployments imminent in other US cities. Kiosks with credit and debit card-accepting capabilities also encourage the purchase of maximum time, especially in cities where a receipt can be used to park elsewhere if time permits."

Read the complete article here. lobbies on voter-verified paper ballots

According to KioskMarketplace:

"A coalition of organizations and more than 200 citizen lobbyists are lobbying the U.S. Congress in support of legislation requiring voter-verified paper ballots, according to a news release.

" supports H.R.550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, and S.330, the Voting Integrity and Verification Act, which would require that voting systems used in federal elections produce a voter-verified paper ballot that voters can inspect before casting their votes."

Not being an electronic voting fan (by any stretch, as you can see from articles like E-Voting Still Not Ready for Prime-Time and Miami-Dade loses touchscreen voting information), I find this very interesting, and personally I think it's great that others have identified the lack of a paper trail for e-voting terminals as a major source of concern.

Read the complete article here.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Instant credit kiosk makes its debut

"Source Technologies Inc. has launched a kiosk software application for in-store credit enrollment and customer-account management.

"The software, called Concourse Credit App, allows consumers to apply for private-label or co-branded retailer credit cards and manage their accounts.

"The kiosks dispense new-account credit cards and accept in-person payments. Optional built-in, multimedia screens will deliver marketing and promotional messages.

"The kiosks, located in teller lines, perform more sophisticated services than an ATM, such as dispensing cashier's checks."

Rather than quote more sentences starting with "the kiosks," I'll just point you to the whole article, which can be found here.

Interactive kiosk recognized for effectiveness, creativity and production quality

"Berlin Productions announced today that it has earned a gold Aurora Award for its development of an interactive shelf-mounted display it created to promote Starbucks Coffee in supermarkets.

"The kiosk offers grocery shoppers a tour of the various blends of Starbucks’ bagged coffees and educates them in how to blend “the perfect cup of coffee.” Shoppers can touch the screen to select the topics that interest them most and experience educational segments that incorporate video and animation.

"Now in its 10th year, the Aurora Awards are open to producers of non-national commercials, regional or special interest entertainment, and corporate-sponsored film and video. The winning entries are chosen by a panel of professional film and video producers, writers and directors."

Find the whole article here.

Kinetics offers off-site airline check-in kiosk

From KioskMarketplace:

"Kinetics, a subsidiary of NCR Corp., announced in a news release CheckinHere, a new kiosk solution that provides multi-airline check-in, prints boarding passes and provides baggage services for passengers at off-airport locations such as hotels, car rental stations and cruise line ports.

"The self-service solution uses a centralized service that unifies all of Kinetics' airline partners onto one screen for a consistent look and feel in every location for every carrier. CheckinHere requires minimal information technology resources and meets all Transportation Security Administration, International Air Transport Association and Common-User Self-Service requirements.

"To use the solution, passengers select an airline and find their reservation by swiping a credit card, selecting a destination city or entering a confirmation number. They are then able to review their travel itinerary and print a boarding pass and receipt."

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Microsoft moves in on self-service

The big news in the kiosk industry is that Microsoft has just announced a new version of Windows optimized for self-service and POS while demoing their new Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. Bill Gates says:

"We've gone from having this boundary between work that you just sit at your desk and do or when you're at home you're sitting there with a desktop computer to now where wherever you are, whether you're taking a portable computer or a mobile phone, you can be in touch, you can get the information that you care about.

And so it's a very radical shift that's taking place, a lot of expectation about what people can get into this device. And it's because of that vision of software working on all these devices, putting the user at the center, taking all the things you're interested and only having to express those things once and it shows up on the different PCs you use, shows up on the different phones you use, because of that software-centric vision that we decided we needed to be part of this mobile space.

So we took Windows CE and built around that. Now, we provide Windows CE and Embedded Windows XP to an unbelievable range of applications from kiosks, medical devices to use in set-top boxes to increasing use in the car and that's another area of special interest to us because we see explosive improvements in what can be done with the user interface there. So embedded Windows in both forms, CE and XP, is used very, very broadly."

Immediately after the announcement, vendors came out of the woodwork claiming support fort the new OS. You can read the full transcript of the conference here.

Best Buy price in-store kiosks don't give best price

According to this article at Gizmodo, using the in-store kiosks at BestBuy might cost you more than you bargained for. Apparently, prices on the kiosk can be substantially higher than those found on the web when viewed from outside the store.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

NYT questions the hotel check-in kiosk

There was an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times about the relatively poor performance of many hotel check-in kiosks. Here's a snippet:

"DUST collectors. That is what employees at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers call their new automated check-in kiosks, as one guest who has repeatedly tried to use them found.

"'I was checking in, and try as hard as I might, the kiosk wouldn't cooperate,' Henry Harteveldt recalled. He flagged down a staff member and said, 'This doesn't seem to work.'

"'Oh,' she shrugged. "You mean our dust collector? It never works.'

"The Sheraton employee had no idea she was confiding to the vice president of travel research at Forrester Research. Otherwise she might not have been so forthright. But that situation is hardly unusual. As these automated check-in machines multiply, the scene is likely to be repeating itself in hotels across the country.

"The problem is that the automated check-in kiosks are unreliable. Mr. Harteveldt estimates that more than one in 10 hotel kiosk transactions fail, either because they are incapable of making contact with the hotel's reservation system, or, if they are able to make a link, because they generate a key to the wrong room.

I highly recommend the article, it's quite good. You can find it here.