The Perspective 
Tuesday, 03 February 2009
One of the most important aspects of a kiosk deployment is the enclosure that protects the kiosk from its environment. Karl Jackson, sales director at ITS Enclosures, provides an overview of his company's product line and takes a baseball bat to an enclosure. Click below to watch.
Posted by: Karl Jackson AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 25 August 2008
I'm often surprised by the size and immobility of many kiosks I encounter in my daily travels. Somewhat like the pillars at Stonehenge, they beckon from afar, yet they also obstruct the view and limit alternate uses of the surrounding space. Sure, there often are reasons for this —peripherals need to be concealed, security concerns addressed, branding efforts made.
However, as one observes users of all shapes and sizes contorting themselves to view a fixed-position screen, not to mention non-users continually circumnavigating the monoliths, there might be a better way. A strong case often can be made for what I like to think of as "the kiosk that isn't there," a kiosk installation that provides the necessary functionality without consuming excessive space and adding visual clutter to a room. A kiosk that can be accessed when needed, but which doesn't obstruct the flow of foot traffic or limit use of the space.
Recent years have seen the introduction of high-quality all-in-one kiosk units that combine monitor and computer into one compact package. These units offer strategic advantages over set ups that require separate monitors and computers, advantages that become even more attractive when the kiosks are mounted to a wall or vertical surface:
  • The primary benefit of an enclosureless kiosk is the minimized footprint. If the kiosk is wall-mounted, the footprint disappears entirely. Space always is tight, so many store operators might jump at the chance to free space currently occupied by an enclosure, especially if they can do so without giving up kiosk functionality. They get to have their kiosk and floorspace, too.
  • Usability and accessibility can be dramatically enhanced, particularly if a height-adjustable mounting arm is used. This type of mount 'floats' the kiosk in the air, allowing the user to effortlessly raise and lower the screen. This enables users of varying sizes to each achieve an optimal viewing angle.
  • Easy repositioning and stowing of the kiosk means that the space can have multiple uses. This provides flexibility for the retailer, essential in a fast-changing business environment.
  • Shipping costs are reduced, since eliminating the enclosure reduces total kiosk weight and bulk.
  • In spite of the lack of enclosure, kiosk security and cable management can be maintained, and even enhanced, if the mounting solution incorporates cable management and quality security features.
We have worked with many remarkable kiosk implementations that have taken advantage of this footprint-free setup, and have been amazed by the variety of uses, as well as the resulting benefits to users and kiosk owners. A retailer added kiosk-based music listening stations without sacrificing valuable floor space. A fast-food restaurant added in-booth kiosks without having to remove seating. A gaming operation added unobtrusive table-side betting. The possibilities seem endless.
If you are researching mounting solutions for your kiosk, here are a few points to keep in mind as you evaluate contending products:
  • Seek out durable, high-quality products. You expect your kiosks to maximize uptime, so you should expect the same from your mounts. Ask the provider about cycle-testing results to be sure you are purchasing a product that has been put through the ringer (before your users do it themselves).
  • Think about the aesthetics. Does the mount fit stylistically with the overall space? A high-end retailer, for example, likely will want something that aligns with the desired store image. At the least, the mount should be unobtrusive so as not to take away from the brand image.
  • Seek a vendor with the ability to customize product to meet your project requirements. You don't need to settle for off-the-shelf solutions if you partner with a vendor experienced in customizing its product.
  • Keep it simple. You need mounts that are easy for installers to work with, and easy for users to operate. The key word is 'intuitive.' You can assume that anything too complicated will not be used correctly, if at all.
To be sure, an enclosureless kiosk is not right for every project — you wouldn't want to distribute cash this way, for example. However, for applications that don't require peripherals beyond monitor, computer and perhaps a keyboard, it's definitely worth taking a look at the kiosk that isn't there.
Joe Tosolt is the Marketing Manager for Innovative Office Products. Innovative has incorporated years of experience in mounting solutions into a leading line of flexible mounts for monitors and kiosks. Custom mount design services are available.
Posted by: Joe Tosolt AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 05 August 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: View comments on this commentary and post your own by clicking here.
I've been musing for some time now about kiosks and the ability to go green. Last year, IBM announced that they were going to make their new IBM AnyPlace kiosks more green and environmentally friendly. At first you think ... it's a computer, how green could it be? Well, for starters they are using more recycled plastic, lower power consumption CPUs, no paints in their finishes, and processes that take less energy to produce parts. This is a good start toward green; I love it when a big corporation refines its product and processes to be more efficient.
Another kiosk hardware vendor, Olea, has produced a kiosk enclosure out of sorghum plants. It was first shown at the NRF in Jan 2008 and again at KioskCom 2008. While not a production-ready unit, it shows that it can be done. Their enclosure looked like a box made out of bamboo, but it was actually an engineered panel made from sorghum waste material. That is a great idea and our hats are off to Olea for engineering this enclosure. The concept gets our creative juices flowing about how to make a more environmentally friendly kiosk.
I guess when steel is required for security and durability in public spaces, we could try to use only recycled steel for our enclosures. But what about alternative materials such as the laminated plant panels Olea created; is there a good green kiosk material, such as this, out there that we can use? If you know of any good environmentally friendly materials that can be used structurally, pass on the idea. Perhaps we will build it. As I continue to muse about the topic, I wonder where I can go to learn more about green building materials? I suppose it would be the same trade shows that builders and architects attend? There must be a central place to locate these types of materials. I just have to hunt them down.
Other industries are using green materials to build their products, and I'd love to see some examples that may spark ideas for our kiosk industry. Readers, what have you seen out there? Does your company produce green materials? If so, comment below or e-mail me your thoughts.
Tim Burke is the owner of Electronic Art. This column first appeared on his blog, "Kiosks Changing Self-Service."
Read also: Five steps to a greener kiosk.
Read also: IBM retail tech goes green.
Posted by: Tim Burke AT 11:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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