Kiosk Systems Overview
What is a kiosk system?
A kiosk system is a sophisticated computer built into a durable structure. It provides touch screen technology for customers, employees, and the general public to get access to services or goods without the assistance of another person. A kiosk can display simple advertising, offer online ticketing and pre-paid gift cards, check identity through iris scanning and fingerprinting, and even act as a human resources entity, providing job applications and asking a series of eligibility questions.
The way a kiosk system works is simple enough: it contains a computer to run the software, a touch screen display (or a keyboard and mouse) for customer input, and a durable kiosk enclosure to protect it. The kiosk system may also feature a bill acceptor for cash transactions, a card reader to swipe credit cards or customer loyalty cards, a barcode scanner, and a printer.
Kiosk system enclosures come in all different shapes and sizes. You can purchase an off-the-shelf kiosk enclosure made of metal, wood or plastic that vendors have in stock to house a basic kiosk. You can also have a kiosk enclosure specifically designed for your business. This can include sleek designs, corporate branding, and unusual shapes to catch the eye of your customers in any setting.
You can select a full-sized freestanding kiosk system (about the size of an ATM), a counter-top kiosk (similar to a desktop PC) that rests on a counter or near a cash register, or a wall hanging kiosk (located beyond arm's reach), which is used primarily for advertising or information display.
Many kiosk systems will reside indoors, but you can make special accommodations for an outdoor kiosk. They need to be protected from various changes in weather, feature a touch screen that can adjust to nighttime use, and have temperature-controlled internal components.
Touch screen technology
You generally have four options:
- The most common is resistive which is inexpensive and durable but lacks clarity.
- Surface acoustic wave (SAW) touch screens feature high resolution but are susceptible to debris and can be expensive.
- Capacitive touch screens are best for high usage but can only be activated with a human touch.
- At the highest end, infrared displays are best for dusty and harsh environments but are difficult to use in direct sunlight because the images get washed out.
LCD (liquid crystal display) is the industry standard for quality, long-lasting kiosk monitors and the prices have dropped from formerly high levels. CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors seem to be an archaic technology closely associated with older television sets and computer monitors. Many kiosk customers choose CRTs because of their low cost, but they are very bulky and have a limited shelf life. Plasma is an eye-catching technology featuring 16 million different colors and high resolution, but cost and a high risk of screen burn-in can make customers shy away from using the technology.
Kiosk systems buying checklist
- Will I use kiosks to sell a product or service, or just provide information?
- How much footprint do I have for a kiosk?
- Do I need only basic software or a more customizable solution?
- Do I need a custom designed kiosk, or an "out of the box" model?
- Will I need additional devices such as a bill acceptor, card reader, or printer?
- What type of kiosks has my vendor created for his previous customers?
- Who will monitor my kiosk for problems and repairs?
- Could I save money by purchasing a used kiosk without sacrificing quality?
Expect to pay $3,500 to $9,000 for a kiosk system with a resistive touch screen LCD monitor, secure keyboard and mouse, and standard kiosk enclosure. A custom-made kiosk enclosure, an upgrade to a plasma display, and other add-ons can tack on several thousand dollars to the price tag.
Two other costs to keep in mind are software and monitoring.
Many kiosk systems are bundled with a basic software package that's included in the price. Others will need an off-the-shelf software product ($500) or a fully customizable package that can cost $25,000 or more.
If you don't have IT staff on hand to monitor your kiosks' performance, kiosk vendors offer extended maintenance contracts for about $20 to $50 per month. If the kiosk is going to play an important role in your business, the small cost is worth it to have someone on call to come out and do repairs when needed.
- It's like a PC, but. Give kiosks a different feel from a computer. A kiosk system should be an escape from the traditional PC and provide a new experience for users.
- Security counts. One thing you can't skimp on with a kiosk is security, particularly if your kiosk will handle cash transactions. You may need security cameras to monitor the public and to watch over employees and service technicians that have access to cash cassettes.
- Free demos. Before you buy a kiosk system, you must see a full demonstration of what you will be getting. Ask to see a kiosk that will perform functions similar to yours to get a sense of the look and feel of the product.
- User-friendly. You want to make sure your kiosk is easy to use with attractive but helpful graphics and simple applications that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of computer experience.
Let us match you to kiosk vendors in your area.Ready to Compare Interactive Kiosks Price Quotes?