Category Archives: Internet Kiosks

Internet Kiosks, Public Kiosks and Custom Kiosks: selfservice and information kiosk industry relevant blogs

Our Year of Kiosks 2015

“The present defines the future. The future builds on the foundation of the past.”Lailah Gifty Akita

 
Already this year is promising to unfold just as fast as last year. It’s almost the end of January and due to the feverish pace that has already begun, we’re late with our traditional “Year of Kiosks” blog which is usually our first blog at the beginning of the year.
It’s something we started doing because we believe it’s always good to pause from our busy schedules, take a deep breath and review what we have done – what was done well and the things we could have done differently, all in an effort to learn and move forward, doing things even better than before. Successes also act as a motivator and keep us striving for even bigger and better achievements and 2015 was a good year for SlabbKiosks.

 
Making the Change

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That statement in itself, highlights one of the major changes that took place for our company and depicts the very essence of looking back, reviewing, adjusting and moving forward. It is one of the reasons we chose to make the change from Slabb to SlabbKiosks. Despite already having the name recognition as Slabb, we decided that SlabbKiosks better defined our brand and product offering while ensuring that we continued to benefit from the Slabb name which had become well-known in the kiosk industry.

 

SlabbKiosks Logo

The new SlabbKiosks logo

The change included a new website and a new logo which both incorporate our new brand colors – grey, green and blue and depicts three cubes which represent the three factors that are crucial for any successful kiosk deployment – hardware, software and implementation/post production.

 
Even though change is usually hard, we believe our rebrand was well received and certainly didn’t affect the number of projects we had for the year. Many of these are still being rolled out, due to the vast volumes involved and we hope to share more about them upon their completion later on this year. But here are two that we were happy to be a part of.

 
TriMas Corporation’s Employee Benefits Kiosks
We provided kiosks for the TriMas Corporation which is headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and employs approximately 4,000 employees at more than 50 facilities in 16 countries. It was no surprise then, that they were seeking an effective solution for their Benefits program, particularly for their employees with limited kiosk access.

 

TriMas Corp's Employee Center

TriMas Corp’s Employee Health & Wellness Resource Center

The six (6) customized X7 kiosks are used to provide online health management programs along with other employee services with two additional units which will also be included as part of their Employee Health and Wellness Resource Center. The kiosks allow employees to make benefit elections and view important benefit documents, review online health plan resources, including claims and Explanation of Benefits documents, compare medical plan and prescription drugs costs and look up participating providers, as well as many other human resource services.

 

Education Service Center, Region 20
We provided six (6) customized kiosks for the Education Service Center, Region 20, a non-regulatory agency with a collaborative and supportive relationship with the school districts that provides the learning community with high quality, cost effective products and services. The Center is one of 20 regional education service agencies within Texas which assist school districts in improving student performance and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of school operations.

 

Kiosks at ESC20

Kiosks at ESC20

The Center was looking for a solution that would offer their clients online access, but one which would provide a more efficient, faster way for workshop participants to review emails and register. The kiosks provide a more effective alternative to the computers which were used in the past, because they don’t encourage longer usage times. It means that there are now fewer clients missing important information provided in class sessions and increase in the overall number of clients being served.

 

OEM Solutions

Automated Vending Kiosk

Automated Vending Kiosk

We also expanded our product line to provide a more extensive range of OEM solutions in cluding automated retail. Some of our projects included Automated Vending Kiosks for an online hair and skin care retail business to extend their reach by providing physical retail touchpoints. The kiosks were outfitted with a customized touchscreen interface allowing users to select the products they wish to purchase, just as they would online. A merchandise window was also included to provide an attractive display of the products. The units will be available at high-traffic indoor shopping malls.

 

Locker Unit

Locker Unit

We designed a customized locker unit for a medical center to better manage the use of the center’s vehicle fleet. The kiosks will be able to scan IDs, track mileage and other maintenance requirements. These will be used as prompts to open the individual lockers and will be accessed by employees that operate the company vehicles.

 

There are many more customized units we have and continue to design. We can’t review every project, but we definitely kept busy with the many we had for the year. This year is proving to be no different, as we have already hit the proverbially ‘ground’ running, starting with the launch of our OEM Solutions website, something we think is important to showcase as we continue to expand our product line.

 
This is only the beginning…Literally and figuratively…So make sure the laces on your sneakers are tied, as we have, and join us for a year that we’re sure will keep us moving sometimes at a jog and sometimes at a sprint, but steadily forward. Look out for the great things in store, all of which we will be happy to review with you again this time next year.

How Kiosks Make Our Daily Lives Easier – Part 1

Kiosks have been mentioned quite often in the news lately, from Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) like Panera and McDonalds adopting the technology, to New York City’s conversion of their iconic phone booths to Wi-Fi Kiosks. These are just a few examples, but for a long time, interactive kiosks have been in use or could be found in many places we go to everyday and have been making our lives a lot easier; you just may not have realized.

 

An Information Kiosk providing internet services

An Information Kiosk providing internet services

One of the basic uses of kiosks is to provide information, whether about a company, a service, an event or location. Information kiosks can be used anywhere information needs to be disseminated, but many are used in museums, malls or lobbies. They can also be used to provide internet access or Wi-Fi to patrons or customers. They often take the form of interactive signage that utilize wayfinding applications. (We will discuss wayfinding kiosks in more detail in Part 2 of this blog). A great example is the information kiosks at Frankfurt airport that read boarding passes and direct passengers to where they need to be.

 

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Companies often use information kiosks to communicate with employees. These human resource kiosks, in addition to providing company information, give employees access to administrative forms such as leave requests, employee manuals, insurance information or even internal training sessions. They can also be used to access the company’s intranet. A great example of the use of human resource kiosks can be seen here.

 

The use of kiosks to provide human resource services can also be extended to job applicants as kiosks provide a convenient way to accept job applications. Prospective candidates can enter their information at kiosks placed at the company’s head office or in the case of retail, at the location with the job vacancy.

 
The popularity of kiosks is probably as a direct result of their self-service applications. In a world where time is precious and consumers are more ‘hands on’, many users prefer having the option of conducting business or paying for services via a machine. It is one of the reasons kiosks can be found in many retail locations.

 

A Loyalty Card Kiosk

A Loyalty Card Kiosk

Retail kiosks, which are often confused with Retail Merchandising units which can also be found at malls with novelty items for sale, are manned units and can be considered mini stores. The retail kiosks we are referring to are electronic units that can be used at stores to accept payments, issue gift/loyalty cards or provide a catalog of a store’s inventory, making it easier for customers to peruse available items and request out of stock items or additional models and colors that may be available at other store locations. It eliminates the need for them to drive to other branches, as orders can be delivered to the location of their choice. It also provides a great opportunity to collect customer data via surveys or purchase history to inform future marketing campaigns or offers.

 
These kiosks can also be used to offer additional services including payment of store credit cards or utility bills, sale updates and coupons or a gift registry. It often eliminates the need to have additional staff for these services and are conveniently accessible after store hours. Some of these services can provide operators with additional revenue through transaction/service fees.

 
Many of the retail self-service applications mentioned above, can be used in other industries including hospitality, healthcare, airports and airlines and restaurants. Hotels and airports use kiosks to provide a more efficient way of checking in, allowing travelers to avoid the frustration of long lines.

 

A Patient Registration kiosk

Patient Registration kiosk

Self-service check in has also now been extended to the healthcare industry to assist in patient management. Patients are now allowed to check in on arrival at a doctor’s office or medical facility allowing front desk staff to easily access their information while eliminating the need for excessive paperwork.

 

 

 

A Self-Service Checkout kiosk at a micro market location

A Self-Service Checkout kiosk at a micro market location

Self-service checkout kiosks, as mentioned in our opening paragraph, are also gaining popularity at restaurants. The goal is to make ‘fast’ food even faster by allowing customers to place their orders via a kiosk, ensuring they get exactly what they want on their order, without standing in line. It still remains to be seen if they truly provide a faster service, as orders still have to be fulfilled by servers which still leaves room for human error as well as variations in the speed of service.

 
Self-checkout kiosks are not only used for fast food, but also for food purchases at supermarkets and micro markets. Both allow customers to access goods and scan and pay for them at the kiosk. It eliminates the need to stand in line and in the case of micro markets, provides a healthy, quick lunch option for workers.

 
Kiosks provide many benefits to both the businesses that operate them, as well as to end users. Hence the reason they are so widely used. Some of the benefits of kiosks include:
• An enhanced customer service experience
• They facilitate the collection and management of customer data
• They provide value-added services
• They allow extended service beyond standard store hours
• They almost always provide a positive Return on Investment (ROI)
• They decrease wait times for customers
• They assist in reducing employee hiring and training costs
• They provide a great avenue for product marketing and company branding

 
These are just a few of the benefits of kiosks. We will continue to explore additional services available via kiosks for various industries in Part 2 of this blog.

 

 

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.

Internet Kiosks and their Role in the Evolution of the Internet Café

I remember when I had to wait in line to use a computer at an internet café. It was often my second option if the computers at my University’s library were occupied, which was normally the case close to final exams when end-of-term projects were due. I guess I’m showing my age.

 

 
We have certainly come a long way since then, but it made me wonder if internet cafés were still utilized and if so, on what scale? I guess not having to use them myself anymore, they’re just no longer on my radar. But a recent court case in California, along with similar cases in other states, made me realize that internet café owners have been forced to reinvent their service offering or otherwise risk going out of business. This is as a direct result of the advancement of technology which has enabled the production of computer hardware at a much lower cost which has been passed on to consumers in the market for PCs, tablets and other devices, the affordability and multiple options of internet packages from various companies, along with free wireless service in many public areas. It is no wonder, that many cafés now offer sweepstakes as an incentive to attract patrons.

 

 
In Bakersfield, thirteen internet café owners are awaiting the ruling of an appellate court judge, who will decide if they actually provide internet access along with other services such as faxing and copying or if they are sites for illegal gaming. The owners argue that their customers come to surf the net and that when they purchase internet time, they are simply entered into sweepstakes with a cash prize. Their argument is that it is similar to a ‘random monkey bonus’ – a Vegas-style slot machine term. I suppose it’s not the best analogy to win their case, but many internet café owners across the country are likening it to McDonald’s offer of the Monopoly sweepstakes game when you purchase a meal or even Coca-Cola promotions involving bottle caps being exchanged for prizes. It will certainly be interesting to see how the ruling will go, as it could mean the decline of internet cafés.

 

 
It’s certainly a deviation from the internet cafés that I knew which provided a straightforward service – cash for internet time with no additions. It was how the first internet café was operated in 1988 in South Korea, connecting users to online service networks through telephone lines. They were at least three years ahead of developed countries. The service only started being offered in the US in 1991 at coffee house locations throughout the San Francisco Bay area, using coin operated terminals. The term Cyber Café was coined in 1994 when the concept of full internet access began. By 2005, the specific niche of Sweepstakes Internet Cafes started offering internet access using sweepstakes promotions.

 

 

 

 

Slabb's X5 Kiosk is often used as an internet kiosk

Slabb’s X5 Kiosk is often used as an internet kiosk

It was around this time, that internet kiosks became more prevalent and were commonly found in public libraries, airports and hotels, providing a convenient option for users. They played an integral part in transforming the perception of the internet as trendy. Their introduction and resulting popularity might have been the catalyst, along with the increased accessibility to hardware and software, for internet cafés to start reinventing themselves. Internet gaming cafés have been extremely popular in Asia and have proven to be a sustainable revenue model due to the strong demand they create. Only time will tell if they will be allowed to continue in their current form or if US internet café owners must once again rethink their product offering.

Providing Reliable Public Internet Kiosks

Fifteen years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a future world so intimately connected by the internet as we are today; fifteen years from now, it may be hard to imagine a past that was not. As internet use grows, it may begin to be perceived as a right, rather than a privilege. Indeed, the European Union conducted parliamentary discussions on “the right to internet” and countries such as Ghana and New Zealand have invested in projects to make broadband internet connections available countrywide. As internet access continues to spread, so do user-access points around the world.

 

 

Slabb's X6 Kiosk

Slabb’s X6 Kiosk

Public internet kiosks have become more prolific. Once manufactured with secure yet ruggedized features, they become ideal for indelicate use in a public environment. It is a great option for businesses seeking to make the internet publicly accessible to their patrons.

 

 

Just as important, are the software solutions needed to make a public internet kiosk effective and user-friendly. It should have the ability to manage transactions, prevent unauthorized system access, enable remote system management, update the owner/administrator of the system’s status, and interface with other transactional components. Customized software applications can also be built to suit the environment in which the kiosk will be used.

 

 

Fast, reliable, user-friendly, publicly accessible internet kiosks have certainly become more and more abundant as broadband access expands. Despite the reduction in the prices of computer desktops, laptops and smartphones as well as internet packages, some users are still dependent on public internet kiosks.

 

 

Having sold thousands of outdoor public internet kiosks and tens of thousands of interior kiosks over the past ten years, we are well-positioned to supply the broadband-connected world with ever more end-user points of access. Stylish and secure, we work to design a product that will not only meet the needs of the business owner of the kiosk, but to meet the needs of the end-users as well. We can custom-design a public internet kiosk that will meet nearly any requirements. Colors, styles, software applications, ruggedized keyboards and trackballs, touch screen overlays, display screens, logo applications – all of these elements can be customized to fit the environment and the expectations of the patrons who will use the product. We even offer optional extras such as a travel case, brochure holders, insert card readers, and wireless kits.

 

 

For more information, or to find out how to order a public internet kiosk, visit www.slabbkiosks.com.

Designer and Producer of Innovative Internet Access Kiosks

For many people, access to the internet has become something of an essential. We need to check our emails, check our flight times, look up an address or find a retailer. The distribution of news and current events online has encouraged many to abandon traditional newspapers or broadcasts and become more dependent on the internet as our primary news source. With so much dependency on the internet, it would be beneficial to many of us, who may not have access to a tablet or a smartphone, to be able to log on to public computers as we zip through the day.

 

Enter Slabb Inc., an internet access kiosk manufacturer that is bringing the internet to the

Slabb's X6 internet kiosk

Slabb’s X6 internet kiosk

people! Based in Nevada, Slabb Inc. designs and manufactures internet access kiosks for businesses that wish to make the internet accessible to their patrons. Experts in public computing hardware and software, we have sold thousands of rugged, weather-resistant outdoor kiosks and tens of thousands of stylish, secure interior kiosks. The stainless-steel tubes, patented vandal-resistant locks and standard 19″ LCD screen make our internet access kiosks attractive additions to any business’ public areas.

 

Perfect for use in airports, doctor’s offices, tradeshows and hotel lobbies, a free-standing internet access kiosk is a valuable tool for patrons of any business. Each product offered by Slabb, Inc. is designed by specialized industrial designers skilled in designing ruggedized hardware which will stand up to indelicate use in public environments. Imagine the convenience of being able to access the internet on your way through the hotel lobby in order to confirm your outgoing flight; picture an internet access kiosk at a point of interest in a big city that enables you to find maps and retailers in the local area. Out of cell phone range? Quickly check your email at an internet access kiosk in a coffee shop. The advantages of being able to quickly connect to the online world are endless.

 

Internet access kiosks can even be custom-designed for hardware as well as software. Colors, styles, software applications, ruggedized keyboards and trackballs, touch screen overlays, display screens, logo applications – the Slabb, Inc. design and project management teams are prepared to meet any requirements for an internet access kiosk. We even offer optional extras such as a travel case, brochure holders, insert card readers and wireless kits.

 

With nearly ten years of experience in the industry, Slabb, Inc. has become a leading provider of internet access kiosks around the world. We have long recognized that by focusing on innovation and affordability, we are able to offer reasonably priced, state-of-the-art products. Part of the value that Slabb Inc. presents is in the form of our customer support and service. Slabb Inc.’s Software, Services and Custom Divisions work together to design, develop, manufacture, install and support internet access kiosks that exceed client expectations. The more people come to depend on the internet, the more access they must have.

 

For more information or to find out how to order an internet access kiosk, visit www.slabbkiosks.com.