Monthly Archives: November 2014

Pay phones get a second life as internet kiosks

NYC pay phone (Photo courtesy phonearena.com)

NYC pay phone (Photo courtesy phonearena.com)

It’s interesting that we first came across this idea back in July 2013 when we wrote our blog In with Recycled Interactive Kiosks, Out With Red Phone Boxes. The story highlighted the repurposing of Britain’s iconic red phone boxes/booths for use as interactive kiosks with built-in Wi-Fi.

 

 
And now, New York City has announced the launch of the LinkNYC project that beginning next year, will transform the city’s pay phones to “Wi-Fi hot spots across the city, providing free Internet access, free domestic calls using cell phones or a built-in keypad, a charging station for mobile devices and access to city services and directions”, according to an article in the NY Times. They will also provide standard pay phone services including 311 information and 911 emergency hotlines.

 

 
It is hoped that this new offering, which will be available to the public, free of charge, will bridge the digital divide. Low income users whom may have previously relied on their cell phones to browse the internet, will now have access to what is being touted as “the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world.” It promises to be 20 times as fast as an average home internet connection.

 

 
It is expected that about 10,000 kiosks will be installed, allowing up to 250 devices on the network at any given time, without compromising service quality due to the Wi-Fi range which will extend 150 feet in any direction from the kiosk. Access points can also be added in high traffic areas. They won’t quite look like the traditional payphone, but will be sleek and tall – approximately 9.5 feet high and less than a foot wide with touchscreen interfaces.

 

 
According to Time.com the project is estimated to cost over $200 million. However, there is no additional cost to taxpayers, as advertising will be one of the key ways that the project will generate revenue. The kiosks will accommodate large digital advertising displays that could generate as much as $500 million over the next twelve years. The displays are a great medium for public service announcements in the event of an emergency or during major events.

 

 
It is a project that will provide many benefits to the City as it is not only expected to generate over 700 jobs (both full-time and support), but it is also a great step toward making the internet accessible to the public, an initiative that can be replicated around the world.

The Future of Travel: Self-service Technology

It seems as though for the past year, or so, not a month has passed where another US airport hasn’t announced the launch of automated passport control kiosks (APCs) to assist in expediting the customs and immigration process. APCs, as they are becoming commonly known as, are self-service passport control kiosks that replace the traditional immigration process of completing declaration and customs forms.

 

 
According to information provided on the SITA website, the kiosks uses three steps when processing travellers. They allow passengers to:

 

 
1) Answer a set of regulatory questions via a touchscreen
2) Have their passport read and verified
3) Have their identities verified.

 

 

 

US Global Entry Program (Photo Courtesy: association.com)

US Global Entry Program (Photo Courtesy: association.com)

These three simple steps, have now made a once time-consuming process, quick, efficient and beneficial to not only travelers but to the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and airlines as well. The United States CBP can now boast faster processing times that reduce queues while increasing processing capacity with the same number of agents. This allows agents to focus on persons of interest. The system also provides high accuracy biometric matching. The kiosks enable airports to use their space and resources more efficiently, reduce queues and clear immigration and customs faster, thereby improving the overall service experience for passengers. The incidence of missed connections is also reduced.

 

 
There are APC kiosk at over 20 airports in North America including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), to name a few.

 

 
Recently, countries such as Aruba and the Bahamas also announced the introduction of APC kiosks. Nassau has plans to purchase 20 of the kiosks. It is expected the trend will continue with the introduction of these kiosks in other major international airports as well.

 

 
But even before the use of APC kiosks, the aviation industry had adopted self-service technology in an effort to enhance the travel experience from arrival at the airport, to the check-in and boarding process. There are many examples of this technology currently at work, many of which utilize the self-service kiosk. Here are a few examples we found:

 

 

 

SITA Beacon Registry (Photo courtesy: developer.aero/BeaconRegistry)

SITA Beacon Registry     (Photo courtesy: developer.aero)

• SITA has also launched the SITA Common-use Beacon Registry. It is a global beacon registry for airlines who wish to communicate with passengers as they enter an airport. The system can communicate with mobile devices within a radius of 100 feet, identify the location of the passenger and send regular updates including estimated walk time to the gate, boarding alerts and if the boarding gate changes.

 

 

 

Canoe.ca ranked the top 10 airport terminals in the world, #1, Hong Kong International Airport, has won several best airport awards. The airport features amenities such as a shopping mall and gourmet food options as well as internet kiosks.

 

 

 

MegaNews Magazines 'Print on Demand' kiosk (Photo courtesy: airportsinternational.com)

MegaNews Magazines ‘Print on Demand’ kiosk           (Photo courtesy: airportsinternational.com)

• Sweden’s airport is the first to offer Print on Demand kiosks to passengers. Described as the first ‘automatic newsstand’, these kiosks are simple to use – passengers can choose from hundreds of titles, browse the magazine they would like and once they’ve made a decision on the publication they want, they simply pay with a credit card. The publication is delivered in 2 minutes.

 

 

 

• Poland’s Chopin Airport has taken it a step further by providing a virtual assistant to help passengers with self-service check-in. The assistant responds in both English and Polish, to queries that include how to use the self-check-in kiosks, which documents need to be prepared and how to print a boarding pass. It’s the first of its kind in Poland.

 

 

 

Russia's Domodedovo Airport (Photo Courtesy: domodedovo.ru)

Russia’s Domodedovo Airport (Photo Courtesy: domodedovo.ru)

• Moscow Domodedovo Airport has installed self-service kiosks that allow passengers to report lost or in transit bags. It eliminates the need to queue up to speak with an agent, instead, passengers simply scan their bag receipt barcode at the kiosk to file a missing bag report. The kiosks are linked to WorldTracer, the global tracing system for mishandled baggage developed by SITA and IATA. The system then matches found bags with lost bag reports.

 

 

• Austrian Airlines has introduced self-service bag drop units at Vienna Airport. The units being used during this trial phase, allow passengers who have already checked-in for their flight to go directly to the bag drop counter to print and attach their bag tags and deposit their luggage into the baggage handling system, without the need for an airline agent.

 

 

 

Hamburg's self-service infrastructure (Photo courtesy: airport-world.com)

Hamburg’s self-service infrastructure                  (Photo courtesy: airport-world.com)

• Hamburg recently revamped their airport with the launch of new self-service infrastructure which gives passengers the option of checking in and dropping off baggage at self-service kiosks.

 

 

 

• London’s Tesco offers a virtual grocery store at the North Terminal of Gatwick Airport. After arrival, travelers can order groceries via a digital signage kiosk.

 

 

• Malta International Airport allows passengers to purchase travel insurance via a kiosk.

 

 

 

These are just a few examples of self-service technology at work. It is expected that the trend will only continue with predictions of investments in smart airport technology surpassing $13 million by 2020. According to an article on kioskmarketplace.com, “The current market, estimated to be $9,718.07 million in 2014, is focusing more on passenger satisfaction by implementing self-service solutions. For example, two-thirds of airports have programs to deploy kiosks and Wi-Fi. Improving passenger satisfaction is the primary reason for airport IT expenditures…”

This comes as no surprise, as passengers continue to demand value for their money with the expectation that they spend less time in queues and at airports, in general, and more time spent enjoying their journeys.

6 Advantages of Countertop Kiosks

The Slabb X2S

The Slabb X2S

A countertop kiosk, also known as desktop kiosk is a kiosk built to sit on a counter or desk (as its name suggests), similar to a desktop/personal computer (PC). Despite being smaller in size than a traditional kiosk, it has the same functionality. Although often overlooked because of the popularity of the traditional, full sized kiosk, the countertop kiosk has many benefits including:
Good things come in small packages – Excuse the cliché, but where the countertop kiosk is concerned, this provides an accurate description. Despite its size, the countertop kiosk can still house all the components found in a traditional kiosk, allowing it to provide the same functionality in a more compact unit.
This makes it a great option for offices or retail outlets where space is limited.

 

 

 

An enhanced the customer experience – The countertop kiosk provides the same convenience as any other kiosk but it provides a seating option due to its placement on a counter or desk. This is important for applications that require extensive input of data where a customer would feel more comfortable if seated while using the unit. Customers may actually be more inclined to use the kiosk, as a result, so this model would be suitable to attract potential users to fill out surveys or supply detailed information. It is also great for use as a human resource tool where employees can access HR functions such as employee benefits and job applications.

 

 

 

Easy to use – The use of customized software and the option of a touchscreen provide an interactive element that makes them easy to use. The countertop kiosk is easy to use. Customers can choose components based on their industry-specific needs. It also gives companies a convenient way to provide relevant company information while allowing users to input data, if needed.

 

 

 

No complicated logistics involved – This kiosk model facilitates easy implementation and installation. It’s as simple as finding a suitable location, plugging the unit in, checking functionality if connected to external databases and finally, using the unit for its intended purpose. Kiosk management is also very straightforward and data can be accessed from any computer through an administrative portal.

 

 

 

The price is right – Due to their size the kiosks have less material requirements, making the cost to manufacture them much less than a freestanding model. They also weigh less which positively impacts shipping costs. It allows the end user to buy the unit at a lower cost than a freestanding kiosk. This proved to be a major factor for one of our micro market clients who can now offer a countertop kiosk to their operators, increasing the size of the market that they service.

 

 

 

Again, don’t let the size fool you – The size of the kiosk does not denote fragility. As is the norm with all Slabb’s kiosks, the countertop kiosk is rugged and vandal-resistant without compromising quality. It can be used in a variety of environments while hosting a multitude of applications to provide an efficient and secure transaction experience for the customer.

 

 

 

The Slabb X2 Kiosk

The Slabb X2 Kiosk

These are just a few of the main features that makes the countertop kiosk an attractive alternative. It can provide the essential elements of a freestanding kiosks including:
– Convenience
– Facilitation of data capturing
– Customized components
– Customizable software
– Alternative payment methods
– Provision of additional services

 

 

Slabb’s countertop desktop series includes the attended and unattended self-service checkout X2T and the recent addition of the X2S, both of which can be customized to suit the needs of any organization or business.