A Guide to Kiosks

Many people seem a little confused as to what exactly a “Kiosk” is. It is basically a terminal that is used to interact with a person or a machine that performs certain services. Examples of this would be an ATM, an information desk, a photo booth, or a vending machine.

These days, there are not nearly as many in which people are employed. For the most part, they are all automated. Depending on where you are, these things might be everywhere. If you live out in the country, like I do, you might not see these kinds of things very often. But I must say, when I got a chance to visit Tokyo a few years ago, I was amazed at how much these things are used. For instance, at many restaurants in Japan, you no longer give your order to a server. You just use a touch screen to select what you want, pay for it through a slot, and your food is brought to you shortly after. Here is a video showing what I am talking about.

So of course, the most common type of terminal that we all use regularly is an ATM. Unless you have somehow avoided doing business with any banking institution whatsoever, which is not easy. Like myself, you may have noticed that not all of them are equal. There is one particular ATM in my (very small) town that I will never go to again, because it malfunctioned and stole five dollars from me! I could have probably made a complaint and gotten my money back, but it just wasn’t worth the effort. So if you are one of those people who buys ATM’s and puts them around town….Make sure you buy a good one!

Information panels are now quite common in many stores. These are kind of like big standing catalogs that anyone can use to peruse product information and watch demonstrations of the products being used. In the past, elaborate store displays were often used to provide customers with a demonstration of the product in use. However, technology has now replaced that with something much more efficient.

Now, of course, there is still something to be said for the old-fashioned manned booth. This is a very compact business location for those who don’t really need a lot of space. It is also ideal for street vendors who do not really have a lot of space to work with. While they may not be as fancy, they have a certain charm that definitely still has its place. Some people feel that these are better than automated terminals for marketing purposes.

Perhaps the handiest of all is the wayfinding panel. These have become common in some places, such as shopping malls and busy city districts. It is basically an interactive map that can be used to navigate a particular area, showing all the important landmarks that may be nearby. I have found these to be very helpful because, let’s face it…Google maps is not all that exact. While google maps can get you from point A to point B, these area-specific maps tend to be much more detailed.

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