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.
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.
Cherryh A. Butler /
Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. www