Friday, December 21, 2007

Dell's new kiosk is a real chameleon

Or at least that's what Evan at StorefrontBacktalk has uncovered, as he notes in this blog post:
"Dell will introduce next month a multi-function kiosk that is designed to change function throughout the day, being used perhaps in the morning to check items in at the loading dock before spending the afternoon as a customer-facing pharmacy information booth.

"The as-yet-unnamed 12-inch touchscreen units will likely list for about $1,300 to $1,800 each and will use power-over-Ethernet, said Brian Slaughter, Dell's director of retail.

"Slaughter made much of the kiosk's power-over-Ethernet capability, partially because of its environmentally-friendly aspect (the kiosk uses LEDs to keep power needs down) and also because of the lower operating costs and greater flexibility, he said. "The cost of running Ethernet is substantially less then running power" and video and sound can run over Ethernet at much greater distances, allowing for many of the commercials and other videos needed to be stored on a server at the other end of the store.
The idea of day-parting* content on a digital signage network is of course nothing new, but I can think of very few examples where the same principle has been applied to interactive applications running on kiosks. It makes perfect sense in hindsight -- there are plenty of locations where customers do different things during morning, afternoon and evening. Why not tailor your applications to take advantage of that?

Also, while I've seen some pretty sophisticated devices running on power over ethernet (PoE), this is the first time that I can think of where a real self-service kiosk is taking such a low-power approach. I'll be very curious to see if the limited resources affect its usability at all.

(* If you don't quite understand what day-parting is, I suggest you check out WireSpring's digital signage primer).

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