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Interactive Kiosks: Evolving Into Everyday Technologies

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Photo courtesy of Hernan Piñera(CC ShareALike)

From information-based kiosks placed throughout museums to interactive ordering kiosks taking over the fast-food scene, we’re looking towards a future in which kiosks are a normal part of the way we interface with our surroundings. As such, more and more companies are learning to rely on them as integral parts of their business. This means they’re also looking for technicians who are not only skilled in installing various customized kiosks, but are also keeping up with their education as kiosks evolve to better fit the consumer’s ever-changing needs.

A Little Bit of History

Kiosks were introduced to the world when a pre-med student at the University of Chicago at Urbana-Champaign crafted the ‘Plato Hotline’ in 1977. Plato Hotline allowed students, teachers, and visitors to access campus maps, directories, bus schedules, and even find movie times in the area through an interactive plasma touchscreen. Jump forward 7 years to 1984, when one shoe shop, Florsheim Express Shop, debuted the first retail-based interactive kiosk in their store. This kiosk allowed customers to browse through the store’s selection and even make purchases.

Informative Kiosks

Shopping malls are some of the first places where use of kiosks for informational purposes became common. Shopping malls across the world are incorporating mall maps, interactive experiences, and even advertising space on their digital directory boards. What many folks might not be aware of is that these newer, smart boards are actually considered kiosks and require the same attention and maintenance as a POS kiosk.

Retail

Though smartphones and other handhelds are impeding on the retail kiosk space, we’ve still seen a tremendous boom in the number of kiosks incorporated into the consumer’s shopping experience. The most common way kiosks are being used for retail purposes today are in restaurants. Some fast-casual chains have installed tableside screens that enable diners to browse menus and even pay for their meals without having to wait on servers to accept payment and return with a receipt or change.  These food ordering kiosks  are even popping up at fast food chains like McDonalds.

Medical

Some big companies, like Pharmabox, are also using vending kiosks to supply over-the-counter pharmacy products, like top-brand cold medicines, digestive relief, pain medicine, and more. But this is just one way kiosks are influencing medicine and how healthcare is delivered.

Kiosks are also being used to satisfy the very real need for a doctor’s presence to those who might not have access. Interactive video-based kiosks are connecting patients with doctors via telepresence, an innovation which is empowering those who would otherwise go without the care they need. Many advanced medical kiosks will also hold several medical tools, like blood tests, pulse oximeters, stethoscopes, and more that the user can utilize, per the doctor’s guidance, to transmit their vital signs and other info to their doctor.

In the nearly 40 years of the interactive kiosks’ history, we’ve seen them grow from simple, basic computing machines to smart devices that can handle an impressively large amount of tasks. With over 1 million installed worldwide, it’s hard to travel to any heavily populated area without interacting with some sort of kiosk. That’s why it’s so important that kiosk manufacturers and retailers find a deployment coordinator and service resource they can trust to keep up with their technology in multiple markets.

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