What do you think of when you hear the word “kiosk”? What picture comes to mind when you imagine it?
It is probably a Wayfinding Kiosks at a large university campus, a vending machine outside a storefront or it could even be one of the old school newspaper stands before kiosks became smart and electronic.
What do they all have in common? They’re all outdoor kiosks.
The most iconic and loved kiosks in human memory are most often than not - outdoor kiosks. The outdoor kiosk today stands as the embodiment of the core concept of self-service devices. This is the model that best signifies the main functionality of kiosks and the reason that they exist: To help people. And not just to help some people who enter into a store willing to spend money, but to help all people, including the commoners by reaching out to them in public places. It is positioned to be as accessible as possible so that it gets as much engagement as possible. As a result, it can greet the hundreds of pedestrians passing by every day, invoke their curiosity and make them interact and ultimately help as many people as possible.
Numerous design differences characterize outdoor kiosks and set them apart from regular indoor kiosks. Since they’re outside all the time,They need to be able to brave the elements, withstand various forms of physical abuse and prevent any possibility of misuse.
Firstly, the outer body/ shell of the kiosk should be rigid, rugged and waterproof. It should also be able to endure at least 10 years of rough use in even the harshest weather conditions and should be tested through a wide range of environmental temperatures.
A high brightness display is a must, especially if it’s a signage type of kiosk.Finally, a small roof over the kiosk will go a long way to protecting the kiosk in the long term, to improve its longevity.
To offer a more refined experience and prevent misuse, the software, applications and the OS running on the kiosk will be locked down to a few required apps only so that we can avoid various ethical problems and protect pedestrians from miserable apps and make it more user friendly.
We’ve seen it in numerous ads and we’ve tried it ourselves, there is nothing more convenient than picking up a can of soda or cool drink from a vending machine, popping it open and having a sip on a sunny afternoon. Apart from the sheer convenience, it was the marketing strategy of companies like Coca cola and Pepsi that made it look so “cool”. These beverage brands have successfully established themselves as the industry leaders and today their brand is a household name all thanks to the effective use of vending machines, which are outdoor kiosks. Hence, outdoor kiosks can serve to not just boost the sales figures, but also as an effective branding tool to promote their brand name and increase its value through popularity.
When it’s placed just outside and in-front of a store, whether it is a vending machine for quick sales or digital signage for advertisements, these outdoor kiosks serve as the face of the business and they can make a strong first impression, trying to turn a random pedestrian into a customer
Since the regular forms of advertising are all expensive, outdoor digital kiosks offer a more affordable way for local businesses to advertise their goods and services. The owner of the kiosk can place the kiosk at a busy urban spot with lots of foot traffic and they can play ads and other promotional content on their kiosks. A single kiosk can be used by many businesses so that they can rotate through a variety of digital ads on the kiosk, thus sharing the costs and making it even cheaper for one business to advertise through it.
Outdoor kiosks can be found on storefronts, on the sidewalks displaying advertisements, in the form of huge digital billboards against the city scape or even as a standalone structure without any nearby buildings. In busy downtown areas and in the city centre, where there’s most foot traffic, these self-service kiosks can really thrive to provide huge benefits to competing shops and businesses. For example, digital signages placed outside movie theatres, playing trailers of the latest blockbuster films are sure to draw crowds in. Combined with a box office kiosk with ticket vending functionality, the customers can select their seats and book tickets without even stepping foot inside the theatre’s entrance. Moreover, the shop/business can showcase the best social media posts on the kiosk screen. Alongside this, they can display a QR code that the user can scan on their smartphone to lead them into the company’s website or social media pages and just like that the business has gained more followers and online popularity from complete strangers.
In busy tourist attractions and places of cultural significance, outdoor kiosks can act as the tour guide that speaks the tourist’s language. The self-service kiosk can provide information about the current spot as well as other local attractions, such as museums, parks, and historical sites, in which case, it doubles up as a Wayfinding Kiosks as well. They can display maps, brochures, and videos that provide an overview of the historical and cultural significance of the monuments, statues or sculptures that the visitors are curious to know about. Botanical gardens, zoos and amusement parks are especially great use cases, where outdoor self-service kiosks can offer valuable information to the visitors.
Stations like railway stations, bus stand and airports are where outdoor kiosks really shine. Self-service kiosks can be placed outside the railway station so that passengers can view more detailed information about a particular bus or train. They can easily view which trains go to their destination, the routes, the schedules and live running status. Not only that, but the passenger can even book the ticket and print it. In metro stations, travel tickets/tokens can be easily issued automatically without queueing up in the counter.
In sports venues, digital signages can be supported from the roof or placed on outside of the playing field to act as a live scoreboard.
Interactive kiosks can be placed outside the stadium, so even when the stadium is closed during non-match days, interested fans can book tickets in advance for the next match without even entering the stadium. When not in use, the owners of the
Sports club can run their top sponsor’s advertisements on a loop as a screen saver to generate even more revenue. This goes for other live events and concert bookings as well. Paid parking environments usually have a street parking meter or a security guard or traffic police officer who collects the parking fee from each driver. The staff may get overloaded easily during peak hours/ rush hour, while most people need to search for change in their pockets as the machine only accepts coins. Thus, a smart digital parking meter can be the best way to automate the parking system. An outdoor kiosk can play this role very well by detecting the vehicle’s presence and charging the exact amount depending on the time spent. Not only in street parking, but these play an even more important role in multi-level parking lots of large buildings like malls, where the kiosk placed at the entrance gate can indicate which parking spot is free and it can inform the driver of which slot to park in and on which floor it is in.
Apart from these applications, outdoor kiosks can be a good fit in numerous locations like gated communities or condos, where it can be used by residents for visitor entry approvals, intercom video calls and facility booking. Additionally, it can be used in schools and universities as a digital notice board/ information center. Outdoor exhibitions and trade fairs can make use of such kiosks to provide detailed, visual information in a simple and interactive interface.
Even New York’s iconic Times Square with all its huge digital billboards playing colourful videos are examples of outdoor kiosks, as they come under the category of digital signages. At the end of the day, it is more than a kind of kiosk, it’s a cultural phenomenon that symbolizes modernity, prosperity, growth of free market capitalism and promotes a higher quality of life for the general public.
There’s a feeling of familiarity and user-friendliness when you’re using outdoor kiosks.It belongs to the people.
With it, you have the assurance that it’s always there to help you, no matter what time it is, user accessible.The outdoor kiosk stands as the definitive self-service machine; it is the modern instrument of altruism. More than anything, it offers hope.
Hope for the future. The future of humanity.Hope that in spite of our obsession for profits and technological progress, we can still take some time out to care for a random stranger on the streets, and use some of our efforts for the good of the general public and for the welfare of humanity as a whole.