The Perspective 
Monday, 16 June 2014

Kisha Wilson
Marketing Manager
Slabb, Inc.

“Today, the internet isn’t accessible for two thirds of the world. Imagine a world where it connects us all.” – Mark Zuckerberg is a global partnership dedicated to making internet access affordable and available to the two thirds of the world not yet connected. It’s an initiative that seems like a mammoth, almost unrealistic task. But is it doable? Only time will tell. Today, only 2.7 billion of the world’s 7 billion or so inhabitants currently have access to the internet with internet adoption at less than 9% annually. If this feat is achieved, the next step would be accessibility to enabling devices. believes that in order to make this a reality, “Potential projects [would] include collaborations to develop lower cost, higher quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities.” They believe mobile operators can play a central role in this effort through initiatives that can benefit the entire ecosystem.

‘Helping businesses drive access,’ is one of the three challenges that the partnership would address, “Partners will support development of sustainable new business models and services that make it easier for people to access the internet. This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access than has previously been possible. Other efforts will focus on localizing services — working with operating system providers and other partners to enable more languages on mobile devices.”

But other options could also be considered, including the feasibility of public internet kiosks, especially for those that can’t afford or choose not to use other devices, even if they are competitively priced. Public internet kiosks are usually used by businesses and are capable of bringing cutting‐edge technology to customers while improving their purchase experience. Imagine if private companies or governments are able to make these accessible to users that otherwise could not access the internet.

Both the hardware and software for public internet kiosks can be customized or standard, and can be ruggedized in order to accommodate the demands of heavy usage. Advertising could also be used to offset the initial implementation costs as well as ongoing maintenance of the units.

Just recently, a project first announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year was put back into the spotlight. It is an effort that would see the transformation of aging payphone kiosks into WiFi hotspots or “communication points” bringing free WiFi throughout the city. It is hoped that the project, which will be funded by advertising and allow users to call 911 and 311 free of charge, will be launched by 2018, at the latest. Currently there are a few WiFi‐enabled booths in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn which launched in 2012, but it is hoped that the new project will vastly increase availability to parts of the five boroughs.

It’s a step in the right direction to providing widespread access, and certainly something that can be explored through the use of various hardware options, including public internet kiosks.

Posted by: Admin AT 01:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
As I traveled home from a ski trip to Canada the other day, I took note of the self-service technology used in the airports. Airports are the largest deployers of kiosks, digital signage and vending that I've come across: Some more than others, obviously. I noticed recently that the Cincinnati airport has taken the time to add a new item to its self-service arsenal: an Internet enabled payphone.
It had a nice hardware form factor, and the interface was OK, but really the design of it looked to be about 10 years old. The unit is produced by a company called Super Pay Phone.
As I walked up to it, I noticed it had a Windows message onscreen. It had evidently recently applied an automatic Windows update and had frozen at a Windors prompt asking whether the user wanted to perform a necessary reboot now or later. I touched the "reboot" button and the unit shut down and went through its start-up process.
There are many reasons why this is bad, including the fact that it allows hackers to see the operating system (to know how to penetrate it). The system forfeits all kinds of additional pertinent information to the hacker during the start-up procedure, including the option to get into the BIOS (which should be password protected with a unique password).
This unit is obviously not PCI compliant.
All of this could be fixed simply by changing the automatic Windows update method to only update late at night (3am) and automatically reboot. Or it could be modified to disallow all automPayPhone2.jpgatic updates, leaving that task to a network administrator.
Years ago we priced similar units for Cincinnati Bell, a company that was thinking of replacing all of its traditional payphones with Internet enabled devices. At the time, they just couldn't justify replacing a $300-$600 dollar device with a $3500 device (times thousands). Now, you can hardly find any payphones on the street, and you can only find them occasionally inside. But the smaller start-ups such as Smart Pay Phones may take away the Bell presence in this marketplace, and quickly. It will be interesting to see the rate of adoption of these smart devices that provide greater service than a traditional pay phone. A small company trying to grow a market and network can pay for the devices with advertising and cost cutting (compared to Bell's often expensive overhead) with leasing of hardware, and Internet access.
I think the hardware is pretty nice, but a few tweaks to interface and security would make this much better. I'd love to know what kind of usage it gets. I doubt it is much. Those few travelers who don't have a cell phone or those who are interested in the "gadget" aspect of the phone will enjoy it, but I frankly would not be likely to use it. What about you? Would you use a device such as this when travelling? How about around your home town? E-mail me and let me know.
This commentary originally appeared here.
Posted by: Tim Burke AT 11:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 12 September 2006
The 2006 Self-Service World Market Survey creates an interesting portrait of the self-service landscape. The report details responses from companies that have deployed self-service devices. Some of its findings are surprising, given what we see every day.
HR kiosks. The survey (published by NetWorld Alliance, which owns and showed that self-service for human resources is underutilized. I believe that’s the case because they don’t have an obvious, up-front return. They’re not transactional; they don’t sell anything. One cannot say, “We’ll install X number of HR kiosks in our stores which will net Y number of transactions, creating Z number of dollars per day.” Without the obvious revenue case, they take a back seat in the industry to ATMs, ticketing kiosks, and sales-and marketing devices.

start quoteOne of the hardest things to find in our innovative industry is a good statistic, especially as companies exploit self-service technology to build custom-branded solutions.end quote

-- Bryan Harris,

Also, the return on investment of an HR kiosk seems twice removed. For example, when confronting an operations executive with the case that HR kiosks reduce the required man hours to seek, train and organize employees, the time savings to managers who would otherwise be processing background checks and vacation days by hand doesn’t seem like such a direct benefit. After all, the company will still pay managers to be doing something during those hours. It’s a little short-sighted, but it’s how people think.
Yet, HR kiosks are valuable. Given their instant background-check capabilities, they make it easier to capture, evaluate and hire qualified employees. What’s more, they solve compliance issues for companies that require standardized skills testing for safety and equipment training. There are plants now with machinery that will not start for employees that aren’t properly trained and tested to use it. Also, they can slow turnover, expedite rehiring, and increase managers’ productivity time – three benefits valuable to any company. It is hard in contrast to quantify “increased manager’s productive time” as a figure in a quarterly report.
Internet kiosks. Reading further, I’m surprised “Internet access kiosks” rank as the No. 1 deployment, ahead of POS systems and ATMs, and I think the numbers come from a semantic misunderstanding. I (and many inside the industry) think of an Internet kiosk as one with which users can browse the Web. I’m skeptical those machines out-number ATMs. Very likely, individuals took that question to address that type but also those that merely access a deployer’s Web site or Web-based interface as part of their routine functionality.
Wayfinding. I’m also amazed that more respondents deployed wayfinding kiosks than did ticketing, price lookup, photo kiosks, airline self-check-in, gift registry and pay-at-the-pump, given the seemingly scant appearance of wayfinding kiosks and the ubiquity of the others. This is a purely anecdotal observation, but given that I’ve never seen a wayfinding kiosk in the field and I frequently use ATMs and pay-at-the pump, it seems strange to me that there are that many wayfinding kiosks in the field.
Digital signage. Digital signs, loyalty and interactive marketing machines are all high priorities in the next 12 months, and as much so in the next five years, according to deployers. As we increasingly see convergence with the digital sign industry, or digital signs used in conjunction with kiosks or conferencing equipment to make them interactive, this statistic reinforces the notion that kiosks and digital signs are at least marrying, if not becoming one.
Perhaps the best conclusion this report illustrates is that we need to do many more reports on the kiosk industry. One of the hardest things to find in our innovative industry is a good statistic, especially as companies exploit self-service technology to build custom-branded solutions. And that’s why this information is important, and these questions need to be asked.
Posted by: Bryan Harris AT 02:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 05 September 2006
As the self-service industry grows, kiosks will be called to serve a wide variety of vertical and horizontal markets. While kiosk interfaces develop in myriad ways, browser-based applications are still appropriate in many deployments.
Browser-based content is any application that can be displayed using an Internet browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. This can include simple HTML, Java applications, videos, or any application that runs on third-party snap-ins like Flash.
You may be surprised at what will run in a browser. While not necessarily ideal for kiosk use, most Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint run in Internet Explorer.
Existing Applications
Most new applications are browser-based for several reasons.
Most are for a company’s Web site or are in some way integrated with it, and browser-based applications solve many system administration and support headaches.
A typical client/server application requires that client software be installed on the user’s computer, and that requires that the installation process be able to handle differences in operating system versions and hardware capabilities. Also, the installation of one application can sometimes break an existing application.
All of these issues increase helpdesk support costs. If the application is browser-based and installed on the company’s intranet, installation and configuration headaches are reduced because a browser is all that’s required.
With so many browser-based applications, it is only natural that some will be deployed on a kiosk. So why not rewrite the application using a kiosk-specific development platform? Because it's not always possible.
Some browser-based applications are developed by third parties, and you don’t control the source code. The human resource market is a perfect example.
Dozens of browser-based HR self-service vendors are out in the marketplace. They deploy their software on the end-user company’s server or using the ASP model on their own server. In either case, the end-user company has no access to the source code.
Most common, however, is when a company develops a useful and resource-rich Web site before it realizes its ROI would be enhanced if users other than pure Internet users could access their site.
The retail market is a great example. Many retail companies have excellent Web sites that would provide value to their in-store clients via a self-service kiosk. The cost to develop a parallel application solely for kiosk use would be prohibitive. Government and banking/credit union markets also have excellent Web resources that make sense to deploy to kiosks.
New content
Browser-based development tends to cost less because the development uses industry-standard Web-based tools that a large pool of developers already know how to use.
Browser-based applications also provide more flexibility in terms of where the application runs. High-bandwidth static content can easily be hosted on the kiosk, while low-bandwidth dynamic content can be hosted on a centralized server.
The rapid adoption of service-oriented architecture, which at its core uses Internet-based technologies, is very easy to implement within a browser-based application.
Software issues
A major difference between a typical Web application and a browser-based kiosk application is the length of time the browser is running. A kiosk browser runs months on end, unlike a quick open-and-close Internet browser. That difference raises the bar for quality. A poorly-written application or plug-in that crashes often or leaks memory is only an annoyance to an Internet user. On a kiosk, those issues are crises.
Hardware issues
An easy way to ruin a kiosk project is to match the wrong hardware configuration with a browser-based application. In dual-use applications: i.e., Internet/intranet and kiosk, it is highly unlikely that the application will be useable in a pure touchscreen environment. In that case, provide the kiosk user with the same tools (a mouse and keyboard) used for the desktop version.
When the browser-based application is designed properly, there are no issues with deploying a touchscreen-only kiosk. And if it makes sense from a business point of view, then the same application can be deployed to the Internet/intranet.
Browser kiosk software
Just because a kiosk application can be developed as a browser-based application using industry-standard Web-development tools does not exempt the kiosk from requiring specialized kiosk software. At a minimum, kiosk software is required to:
·lockdown the OS, browser and desktop
·elegantly handle browser errors
·manage the user’s session
More likely, kiosk software also will need to:
·manage attract-screen sequencing
·manage second-monitor content
·interface with specialized kiosk hardware like security mats, proximity switches, barcode readers and magnetic-stripe readers
·provide custom toolbars
·collect usage statistics
·monitor kiosk hardware
·Communicate with a centralized management server
The demand to deploy browser-based applications within the self-service space will only grow.
Posted by: James Kruper AT 02:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  
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