Friday, September 30, 2005

Wine Expert kiosk aids shoppers

Engagdet has a little post about yet another wine kiosk project in the running out there:
"If the best advice the salesperson in your neighborhood bottle shop can offer is “white with fish, red with meat,” maybe it’s time for the store to invest in a Wine Expert. The Wine Expert is a point-of-sale kiosk that can dispense wine advice based on a range of criteria, including grape variety, name, region, price or suitability with food types. It can also scan a bottle of wine and bring up notes about it. If a customer isn’t ready to buy, the info can be forwarded to an email address for at-home review."
Here's the permalink.

GameStop trials Dell kiosks

Gaming is huge, and Dell wants a piece of this very lucrative market. To that end, they've decided to showcase some of their high-end (and high margin) PCs by installing them into kiosks at GameStop locations across the country. As Next Generation notes, "The company has placed 25 trial-kiosks in stores in Dallas, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It wants to show games consumers the benefits of PC gaming, and its new sleek machines. Consumers won't be able to buy the machines through GameStop, but they can make their purchases online. Dell does not retail its products in the traditional manner."

Healthnotes releases upgrade to kiosk software

From TMCNet (republishing a press release from BusinessWire, I think), comes this news from health awareness/information provider HealthNotes:
"Healthnotes Inc. (HNI), the premier provider of reliable, easy-to-use health, food, and lifestyle information for Web sites and in-store touchscreen kiosks, today announced the release of Version 7.9-2005 of Healthnotes(R) applications for supermarkets, pharmacies, and health food stores. The five department-specific applications were designed to help retailers offer consumer-friendly healthy living information and recipes to assist their customers in making purchase decisions in-store and online...

"For Version 7.9-2005, as with every release, the Healthnotes knowledgebase was updated to reflect the latest scientific and medical studies. HNI's research team, lead by Chief Medical Editor Alan Gaby, M.D., continuously reviews more than 600 medical journals to keep the information current, factual, and balanced."
Personally, I much prefer that to unbalanced healthcare information :)

AmStar deploys financial services kiosks

From Kiosk Marketplace:
"The AmStar eca$hier financial services kiosk is designed for the unbanked market, which, according to a recent U.S. Treasury Department study, is approximately 43 percent of the U.S. population and represents nearly 75 million people with buying power of over $650 billion a year. Most eca$hier users are not part of any banking system. The kiosk allows customers to purchase prepaid debit cards, reload debit cards, transfer money to Mexico, order money orders and receive cash. The eca$hier unit is equipped with a card reader and MEI cash acceptor, providing eca$hier purchasers with 100% market usage of the equipment."
Despite the hard-to-pronounce name, the eca$shier kiosk follows successful projects like ExxonMobil's e-wiz, and Circle-K/InfoTouch's TIO line of financial service kiosks.

You can find the whole article here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wal-Mart to install new Fuji digital photo kiosks

The Washington Post tells us (in this article) that:

The [new Fuji] kiosks, called the Digital Dropbox, combines a traditional film drop box with a digital order system, and will be introduced in 3,400 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. locations by November.

Using the machines, customers can copy thousands of digital images from a portable memory card or compact disc, and pick up the 4-inch-by-6-inch pictures two days later for 15 cents a print at Wal-Mart, and 13 cents a print at Sam's Club shops.

Kiosk survey finds self-service users satisfied

As if the title wasn't enough of a mouth-full.... In an interesting study of German supermarkets, NCR found that most were pleased with the availability of self-service options provided through interactive kiosks, self check-out lanes, etc. Here's a quote:
"Close to 88 percent [of those surveyd] reported self-checkout experience as "very positive" and 86 percent said they will "definitely" or "probably" use self-checkout again. Neither age nor gender had a significant influence on consumers' willingness to accept the new technology....

"Seventy-six percent use self-checkout because they find being able to get their shopping done quickly is "important" or "very important." More than two-thirds believe they can complete their transactions more quickly when they do it themselves. In addition, 24 percent said they use NCR FastLane to avoid waiting in line at the traditional checkouts.

"Twenty-five percent of shoppers surveyed using assisted-service lanes said they chose the traditional checkout because they were purchasing large numbers of items on sale, or large numbers of the same item. Half of the self-checkout customers were against limiting the number of items they can check out through these lanes, with 60 percent wanting the freedom to use shopping carts as well as baskets."
KioskMarketplace has the whole story, which is worth reading, even if the survey results are "sponsored" by a company with a significant vested interest in seeing positive results :)

Elo introduces new kiosk touch screen

Good news for wanting less expensive turnkey touch screen solutions, as Elo announced:
"another entry-level touchmonitor as part of its expanding 1000 series. The new 1715L 17-inch LCD touchmonitor joins the existing 1515L 15-inch LCD to expand Elo’s family of cost-effective touch solutions for system integrators and resellers in the retail and hospitality markets.

The 1715L can function as a desktop or wall-mounted unit. The display is factory sealed against dirt, dust, and splashes and is styled to be attractive from all angles. The 1715L touchmonitor is available with Elo’s IntelliTouch surface-wave touch technology, plus a dual serial/USB touch interface. Worldwide agency approvals cover the entire monitor, which is designed, built, serviced and supported by Elo, a single-source supplier."

Elo screens are certainly the standard in an industry with many vendors, so we can hope that price movement from the big guys indicates lower prices from other vendors should soon be a reality as well. Here's the complete announcement.

MontegoNet starts reseller program

Kiosk software provider MontegoNet has just announced that they're going to be starting a reseller program aimed at improving sales of their vertically-oriented application bundles. As KioskMarketplace notes:
"The program enables interested resellers to generate high profit margins and recurring revenue streams through sales of MontegoNet’s multi-function kiosks, industry-specific solutions such as the iBank financial services kiosk, the QuickPath directory kiosk, kiosk software, remote kiosk monitoring services, and MontegoNet’s forthcoming digital signage products. Through the MontegoNet Reseller Program, resellers receive sales and product training for MontegoNet products, MontegoNet marketing materials, sales leads, and ongoing technical support."
You can find the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Virgin Megastore Times Square installs 150 new IBM Anyplace kiosks

Virgin is no stranger to state-of-the-art merchandising techniques, and they've upped the ante with the installation of 150 IBM kiosks in a single store! As this press release notes:

"Customers at Virgin Entertainment Group's completely refurbished flagship Virgin Megastore in Manhattan's Times Square are using 150 of IBM's latest hands-on, customized kiosks to preview virtually any of the thousands of CDs, DVDs, and console games in the store and gain a world of music information on demand, IBM announced today.

"The world's premiere music-and-entertainment retailer, which promises an "emotionally exciting" shopping experience, has installed a custom application on 150 new IBM Anyplace Kiosks in its sprawling, three-level Manhattan store that is America's largest music-entertainment store. The IBM Anyplace Kiosks, built with a sleek and compact design engineered to withstand even the harshest retail environments, give shoppers the ability to sample more than 250,000 CDs, 11,000 DVDs and 7,000 games.

"Virgin refers to the 150 new kiosks as Virgin Vault Kiosks. Through the use of the scanning, browsing and recommendation kiosks, Virgin is placing an emphasis on helping its customers to try before they buy almost any product. The Times Square store will have more of the Virgin Vault Kiosks than any Virgin Megastore in the world.

"For example, a Virgin Megastore shopper interested in Kanye West's latest CD, 'Late Registration,' can instantly preview the CD, watch the video trailer for the DVD 'Million Dollar Baby,' or view reviews and screen shots from 'Madden NFL 2006.'"

They go on to talk about the possibility of guided selling -- using the self-service kiosks to suggest complementary products based on a browser's usage patterns. Definitely check out the article at the link above.

Portland drivers can check car emissions at kiosks

This article covers a pretty novel use of self-service technology:
Starting next year, self-service kiosks and a dashboard device that sends auto emissions data to the state will allow drivers in the Portland and Medford areas to avoid long lines at DEQ stations.

The dashboard device, at $39, tells the state if your car is polluting. Drivers will get an e-mail, a postcard and 45 days to fix it.

The device will not record speed or location.

"I don't care where they've been or how fast they're driving,'' assures Ted Kotsakis, head of the state Vehicle Inspection Program, who's leading development of the new system.

It is intended to keep the air cleaner by catching smog-belching cars without waiting as much as two years until they show up for an inspection. And it will save the state the cost of building new emissions check stations to handle the 1.4 million Oregon vehicles that need testing each time their registration is renewed.
So basically, the idea is that you install some sort of pollution-monitoring LoJack in your car, the system keeps track of your emissions, and you can proactively check to make sure you aren't polluting too badly. If kiosks were available at many gas stations, service stations, etc. I could see this working, but if not properly deployed, I would be very surprised to see this kind of system get any major traction.

Swift Transportation selects Netkey for self-service kiosks

We haven't heard much out of NetKey recently, but here's a deal that they seem pretty excited about (I'm trying to decide whether I like blockquote or not, please bear with me :)
"After an extensive evaluation, Swift chose kiosks from Kiosk Information Systems of Louisville, Colo. and software and services from Netkey for the application development, deployment and remote monitoring and management for what is now called the Swift Informer Self-Service System. About 150 Informer kiosks are being installed in over 60 distribution and repair facilities and customer locations where Swift maintains a full-time employee presence.

"The Swift Informer kiosks provide drivers, mechanics and other employees -- once logged in and authenticated -- with secure online access to payroll, benefit, permit, training and safety information, truck repair manuals and parts availability, as well as e-mail, company news, weather and directions. Swift will benefit from lower costs to deliver HR services, improved data accuracy, quicker dissemination of company information, reduced driver turnover and increased employee satisfaction."

Self-service HR is one of the fastest growing areas of the kiosk industry, especially for firms with a large number of employees that don't have direct access to a PC during their regular work day (think manufacturing plants, distribution facilities, etc.). You might want to check out the rest of the press release.

Friday, September 16, 2005

HealthNotes launches new health & nutrition kiosk

As Craig over at gokis tells us:

Healthnotes Inc. (HNI) today announced the launch of its latest EasyAnswers Touchscreen Kiosk, the Low-Profile. Available in nine design variations, the Low-Profile Kiosk offers retailers the flexibility of choosing the color and graphics scheme that works best for their stores.

The Low-Profile Kiosk is a plug-and-play unit preconfigured to run Healthnotes applications. The kiosk stands five feet tall and includes engaging graphics to grab customers’ attention and motivate them to use the kiosk to find answers to their health, food, and lifestyle questions and help them make purchase decisions. It’s available in 3 standard colors (red, green, and blue) and 3 signage treatments to match the department where the kiosk is located; Healthy Living, Food and Recipes, and Pharmacy. Additional customization, such as adding the retailer’s logo or other branding elements, is also available.

You can read the rest of his post here.

A new sensation in touch screens

Reporting from the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), KioskMarketplace tells us about a new haptic feedback touchscreen made by Immersion Corporation, whose vice president is Mike Levin, formerly of Scala fame.

As the article explains, "TouchSense technology enables touchscreens to generate tactile cues, promoting a more intuitive, engaging and natural experience for the player. Players perceive that on-screen buttons press and release as if they were physical buttons. In addition, TouchSense tactile sensations can be synchronized with sound and graphical images, creating a more immersive, multisensory experience."

Neat stuff.

Delta kiosks lauded by Forrester research

"In a recent study, Best and Worst of Kiosk Environments, 2005, by Forrester Research, Delta's self-service kiosks in New York's LaGuardia Airport received a near-perfect score for location, signage, workspace and design. According to the report, "The best kiosk layouts make it easy for customers to know where to line up and who goes next — even when there's a crowd waiting for the machine." The report noted that with more than 20 kiosks available at LaGuardia and clear signage, customers benefit from easy access, even during busy periods, and are also provided a clear path when they are finished with their transaction.
"Delta continues to expand both the number of kiosks — there are nearly 1,000 kiosks in about 100 locations — and the locations within airports and at off-site locations where customers can quickly check-in, choose their seats and obtain their boarding pass. For example, kiosks are now being placed in the gate areas of airports such as Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to benefit connecting customers, and earlier this year Delta added kiosk functionality in select Avis Rent-a-Car locations."

Read the rest of the story at KioskMarketplace.

Self-Service & Kiosk Show ramps up

As KioskMarketplace tells us, "the Self-Service & Kiosk Show is scheduled for Oct. 17-18 in San Francisco at the South San Francisco Conference Center.

"The two-day event not only highlights self-service technology but also features real-world kiosk demonstrations. Show attendees are pre-screened buyers and key industry decision-makers involved with the purchasing or management of self-service/interactive kiosk solutions.

"Networld Alliance, which also owns ATMmarketplace, KioskMarketplace and Self-Service World, produced its first Kiosk Show in Boston in October 2004. After organizing a second show in Orlando in February, the company decided to make the event semiannual.

"With its broadened focus, organizers have high expectations for attendance at the San Francisco Show. Exhibitor space has been filled since early August."

Friday, September 09, 2005

McDonald's digital experience leaves one journalist wanting

In an article by the Chicago Tribune's Trine Tsouderos a visit to a local McDonald's turns into a high-tech demonstration of fast-food franchise things to come, where you can watch high-def TV, print digital photos on photo kiosks, and yeah, you can even get fries with that. But not all of the experiences were good:

Besides burgers and fries, Oak Brook's sleek new McDonald's boasts two floors, great furniture, a coffee bar, Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs--which on the day I visited played either McDonald's commercials or CNN's blanket coverage of the London bombings--and other technological doo-dads designed to attract young, hip customers....

Inside this McDonald's is a pair of ATM-style kiosks, a handful of computer terminals and a posse of friendly, clean-cut and slightly harried-looking Blaze Net helpers. Blaze Net is the technology that allows McDonald's customers to burn CDs, print photos off their digital camera and download cell phone rings. When I visited, the kiosks and terminals had been running since spring.

With my digital camera in hand, I decided to give Blaze Net a whirl. The price was right--22 cents a print--and besides, a Blaze Net helper had already sidled up to me, promising to walk me through the process.

Unfortunately, despite good intentions, Blaze Net technology proved difficult to use and glitchy.

Galvanon's MediKiosk selected by Cottage Health System

KioskMarketplace brings us this news:

"Galvanon announced in a news release that Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Cottage Health System will implement its MediKiosk solution to automate the patient registration process at its facilities. Cottage Health System will use the patient self-service kiosks, which will be equipped with biometric fingerprint imaging capabilities provided by NEC Solutions (America) Inc., to instantly and accurately identify patients during the check-in process.
"Upon arrival at the facility, patients will have the option of providing a thumbprint or swiping a driver's license, credit card or membership card directly on the kiosk to begin checking-in. Patients can then use the kiosks to update demographic and insurance information, sign consent forms and make co-payments. Once checked in, front office staff is notified of the patient's arrival.
"Galvanon's MediKiosk is part of a comprehensive suite of products that allows hospitals and clinics to provide patient self-service capabilities such as pre-registration via the Web, online BillPay and eClipboards, Galvanon's wireless patient check-in solution."

You can read the rest of the article here.

Sentry Technology installs library checkout kiosks

From this press release over at PRNewswire:

"Sentry Technology Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: SKVY) announced today the successful installation of 8 QuickCheck(TM) patron self-service kiosks at the Omaha Public Library. The library expects to increase circulation using QuickCheck(TM) by as much as 50%.

"QuickCheck(TM) operates in a similar fashion to a bank ATM. Patrons gain access to the library's circulation software via a user card and touch screen monitor. A barcode or RFID chip is read, security functions performed and a receipt is printed to tell the patron what items have been borrowed and when they are due to be returned. Once the process is complete, the patron exits the library through the security system without any intervention from library staff. The entire process is fast and frees library staff from the circulation desk to perform higher-level tasks. The system includes statistical usage report software as well as remote diagnostic control and management over a local network and via the Internet.

"'Sentry Technology installed 8 QuickCheck(TM) self check stations in 4 branches,' said Ryvka K. Sass, Executive Director, Omaha Public Library. 'Stations have an intuitive and user friendly design with on screen operating instructions that guide our patrons through the checkout process allowing them to borrow any library item including CD's, DVD's, and video cassettes. QuickCheck(TM) is fabulous!'"

Friday, September 02, 2005

Airlines boost use of check-in kiosks

At a time when there is precious little good news about the airline industry comes this article about the cost-reducing and customer-happy-making check-in kiosk. Amazingly, "electronic tickets now account for 30 percent of those issued by airlines, up from 19 percent in 2004, the poll by airlines technology firm SITA and Airline Business magazine showed." From this article:

"The poll found 44 percent of airlines intend to offer some form of in-flight connectivity by the end of 2007.

"High fuel prices have dented hopes for airline earnings this year, though fuel surcharges appear to have helped many pass on costs to passengers without losing business.

"The poll said one risk the industry faces is unnecessary costs stemming from the need to introduce new technology for some carriers, while sustaining legacy systems for those unable or unwilling to upgrade.

"'It would be a costly duplication if the industry had to retain technology to process both paper and electronic tickets,' SITA President Peter Buecking said.

"North American airlines have gone from the industry's technology leaders to laggards, with Asia-Pacific carriers now the most savvy about upgrading technology, the poll found."

Fresh City eateries serve health kiosks

The Boston Herald is running a neat article about a number of nutrition kiosks being deployed to eateries throughout the city. From the article:

"The first kiosk was unveiled in Fresh City's new prototype restaurant in Warwick, R.I., last week. The next one will show up in the 13-unit chain's Newton location in two weeks.

"The 'Know Your Food' program is intended to alert Fresh City customers about menu options that match their dietary needs, according to Bruce Reinstein, chief operating officer.

"'Even though we've always offered these options, many customers never realized they could customize our food based on the way they live their life,' he said.

"Customers can access the information by clicking on individual menu items or one of eight categories such as 'lower in fat,' 'less carbs' or 'higher fiber.'"

You can read the rest of the article here.

Ritz Camera tries photo kiosk print bars

From various PR sources:

Ritz Camera Centers and Lucidiom Inc. announced in a news release that Print Bars in Ritz Camera locations nationwide will be equipped with digital photo kiosks powered by Lucidiom, creator of the Automated Photo Machine (APM).

Ritz Camera Center’s Print Bars, which the company introduced earlier this year, allow customers to sit comfortably at photo kiosks to select, edit and print their digital images from their media cards. Lucidiom APM systems have been introduced in Ritz Print Bars across the country and will be connected via the APM Network to allow Ritz to remotely track and manage order volume, order status and kiosk performance. And just in time for the upcoming holiday season, Lucidiom’s APM software now incorporates its Creative Collections package, giving Ritz customers the chance to create unique greeting cards, scrapbook templates, magazine covers and more.

KioskMarketplace has more of the story.

California tries self-service lottery kiosks

From KioskMarketplace:

Under the contract change order, GTECH will provide the California Lottery with 550 Altura terminals, adding to the 18,500 Alturas already in operation. The company will also supply 12,500 Express Point Plus devices, bringing the total to 19,000. The Express Point Plus terminals facilitate convenient player-activated identification of online winning tickets. The Lottery will also receive 1,000 20-bin Expandable Dispensing System Quad Burster ITVMs, which will be used primarily as replacement machines.

Along with the ITVMs, GTECH will provide 150 GamePoint terminals, the company's new lottery self-service solution, combining the best of the instant ticket vending machine with online self-service capability. Over the next 90 days, the Lottery has agreed to order 200 additional ITVMs or 100 additional GamePoints, or some mix of the two equipment types.

The full article is here.