Kiosk applications and other self-service systems are rapidly growing business area. Internet connectivity, a greater variety of interface equipment and prices that continue to drop are enabling the cost-effective deployment of an ever widening array of applications. Hardware is available for a wide spectrum of requirements. Vendors such as NCR and 5point can meet most any need
Kiosk Software application development is relatively straightforward. Many kiosk applications now use an ordinary PC attached to various more specialized interface equipment such as touchscreens, card readers, special keyboards, and trackballs. Equipment and kiosks can be purchased for either indoor or outdoor usage, outdoor equipment is noticably more expensive. Outdoor kiosks have special needs due to weather, water and sunlight.
Usually either .NET or Java is used as an application language. The operating system is either Linux or Windows XP. Kiosk applications can be a specialized web site program or more traditional client application. There are special security programs for controlling access and monitoring the kiosks (such as Kioware). These programs prevent access to the computer or any application other than those specifically permitted.
Touchscreen applications are much like any other except the interface elements typically have to be much larger. This can be especially challenging when working with spreadsheet like programs or interfaces. Most interface hardware available today has a well defined software API and can usually interact seamlessly with the programming.
Unidev recently completed two separate kiosk applications. One was an application which allowed visitors to search a large database of products and images to obtain detailed information about the products and pricing. By automatically providing this information on a round the clock basis, the vendor is able to interact with all potential customers even when salespeople are not available.
The other application provides an automated method for filling out and validating data entry forms by customers. This application saves a considerable amount of labor as well as ensures the data is correctly filled out and validated while the customer is on site saving considerable rework.
Both of these applications communicate with a central server for obtaining updates of both code and data, sending report information to the server and monitoring. The server applications provide a central data collection point for management reports.
Self-service kiosks have proven themselves to be a cost effective tool for both labor savings and improving service levels to customers.