Skype Station digital signage kiosks taking off

Some of the more than 600 million Skype users around the world no longer have to make calls only from their homes or offices. Tallinn International Airport in Estonia, a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, is one of 10 locations testing the Skype Station, developed by AdTech, to allow users to make free video calls. (Click here for a slideshow of photos.)

Several Russian companies have deployed the new digital signage kiosks in hopes of showcasing their innovative bent, said Dmitri Friesen, sales director of AdTech, as has the Estonian Center for Business Development, where the booth symbolizes the state's focus on innovation. Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England, also has a Skype Station.

"Skype Station offers a really fun watch and touch experience," Friesen said. "After testing it at Tallinn Airport we can guarantee both engagement and heavy use."

The company spent a year tweaking the design and in the next 12 months plans to deploy about 500 of the kiosks in a variety of locations ranging from airports to hotels, malls to universities. The kiosk not only facilitates calls but also serves as a digital out-of-home marketing device, showcasing video content and ads on its 23-inch touchscreen. The kiosks can also be multifunctioning, allowing deployers to provide a vareity of e-services, incluing bill-pay or phone top-up services.

"It can be used as a powerful marketing tool," Friesen said. "Due to its outstanding design and free services it attracts a lot of people, who will see the ads."

How it works

The 1000-mm by 2,400-mm kiosk uses an open platform, allowing deployers to use them in various ways, Friesen said. It's also a plug-and-play device, meaning a retailer only needs to supply the machine with power and an Internet connection; it needs no extra maintenance.

Through a hidden-floor sensor, the kiosk senses a user's presence and prompts him to log into his Skype account. The floor turns green when someone is logged in but turns blue when someone logs out. Each kiosk also includes an automatic log out system, so when a user steps out of the booth, he is automatically logged out of his Skype account.

The cost

Although the price of the kiosk depends on hardware and software setup, Friesen said the basic price is about 5,000 Euros ($6,189 U.S.) per one unit. Besides using the stations as a way to drive traffic and enhance customer experience, deployers can make revenue on ads, which run on the touchscreen when the machine is in idle.

Retailers can also use it as a shopping assistant, so there is no need to have professional personal in each shop, Friesen said. Deployers may also order the machines in any color and with their specific branding.

Watch a video from AdTech about the Skype Station below:

Do you think the Skype Station will take off? Leave your comments below.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Erin Feldman
    Part of me sees how a Skype Station could add value, but a larger part of me questions it. Most people have Skype on their phones or tablets. Wouldn't they only use the stations if they didn't have to access to their phones or tablets for some reason?
  • Dmitri Friesen
    Skype Station might work not only as an additional value service, but as corporate service ground.

    Wouldn't it be cost efficient to have regional sales or service offices with the size of just 1 m2?
  • Gerald Ewing
    I agree with Erin. I could see it working in airports and major tourist attractions like Disney or the streets of Las Vegas.
  • Dmitri Friesen
    Gerald what do you think about using this device in the hospitals, military camps all over the world, etc where people have a lot of time and are missing theirs relatives and friends?

    Relatively free communications might be a new business concept for communication sector just like ads on TV or radio. Users get access to the infrastructure and pay for it by watching ads, making online purchases etc.
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