Our client, Minnesota’s largest trial court, was looking for replacement kiosks to be used as a part of their Public Defender Eligibility program. Here’s how we assisted…
Download the pdf: Judicial efficiency with self-service kiosks
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post was written by our Sales Director, Mike Masone and was originally shared on LinkedIn. We thought it was a great read. Let us know what you think and please feel free to share as well.
My family and I decided to use what could be the last of the nice fall weather and try to go apple picking this weekend. We weren’t sure where to go so we headed to the closest orchard the internet could find us-XYZ Farm, which was only about 30 minutes away.
At minute 27 we had a problem. Heavy traffic on small country roads is un-expected, un-planned traffic with a 5,3 & 3 year old is dangerous. So when things slowed down we threw the 67′ Spiderman DVDs on for the kids while my wife and I quietly debated our next move with limited information.
Luckily we were able to flag down a young couple on foot who informed us that we had wound up smack dab in the middle of the Season End Harvest Festival from XYZ Farm. They also informed us that the traffic was bad, for about a mile. We did the calculus that all parents are forced to do when plans go awry and determined (after spying the tops of a couple of bounce houses) that we should give it a shot…sunk costs and all. After all, we had made apple-delivery promises to family and the kids had now caught wind of the bounce (poor OpSec by me) and were now practicing their bounce moves against their seat belts.
After another 20 minutes in traffic and a quick run through the Mad Max – inspired parking field we found ourselves stridently converging on the festival area with the hundreds of other families who had procrastinated to our level.
As we walked in, every person we heard speak in passing echoed the same sentiment; “this is terrible, the lines are so long we can’t even spend money, let’s go.” Undeterred and of course better, smarter, and more patient than every other human there we pressed on.
The five of us arrived and decided to execute our standard divide and conquer plan. I stood in the long line with one child to buy tickets while my wife walked with the other two to find the best lines in which to stand to spend the tickets and maybe a candied apple or 4 to soothe the impatient children, and me, who can be quite childlike in those situations. She returned after 10 minutes to the exact spot she had left us and informed me that not only had none of the other lines moved, but that the candy apple line was long to the point of insanity.
Surveying the situation the only things we saw moving rapidly were the arms, hair, feet, eyes, and aging processes of the young, once-a-year cashiers and ticket takers who looked as though they had been pressed into service straight off of the school bus. They were trying, but they were not equipped to deal with the literally thousands of people bursting the place at the seams.
We decided to give up. Some quick math revealed that we would spend 45 minutes of the next hour standing in lines and only be able to spend about $10 on rides and maybe never even get fed. Relieved at our agreement, we took a walk to the sufficiently numerous though foul portapotties and then strolled by some pens to say hi to the chickens, goats, and other assorted farm creatures who were more shocked by the situation than the cashiers. We then got in our car, drove 10 miles down the road and spent $30 on fall ‘stuff’,another $20 on ice cream, and 30 perfect minutes sitting on a picnic table together.
I do my best to not let work-Mike over-analyze family-Mike’s time and experiences, especially as they are happening, because it makes both Mikes a bit crazy. 36 hours post-incident my mind continues to be boggled. The fact that the organizers didn’t take the small and simple steps necessary to help people spend money and have fun while keeping their employees and friends sane is disappointing. Things like :
These things are simple, cheap, and almost always ‘worth it’.
It is true that not every venue wants to run with the efficiency & voraciousness of a LiveNation event and many businesses and individuals value tradition over efficiency; but failure of this venue to embrace simple, proven, techniques resulted in their 1000s of attendees not spending their $10-50 per/cap and forever eliminating XYZ farm list of possible fall traditions for years to come.
On the plus side, we have a new favorite Ice Cream place!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
• 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.
• 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 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.
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.
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.