My company has been experimenting with iPad kiosks for about a year now, because we wanted to test the feasibility of using them for streamlined kiosk projects that, if successful, could pave the way for an easy to replace all-in-one kiosk solution. For those that are unaware, let me explain: A new trend has been spreading in the industry which involves putting iPads in secure enclosures, whether they be freestanding or wall-mounted, and using them as a self-service kiosk solution.
On the outset it seems like a great idea, but using ipads as an all-in-one kiosk has proven to be an unreasonable solution at best, and at worst, a half-hearted attempt to implement a self-service network at a cheap cost. For those of you who have regularly read my blogs, my top focus is on high quality and reliability of the product, simply because digital kiosks are primarily for public use. Because public interaction is so high, each day that a poorly executed kiosk sits out there hurts consumer confidence. And the iPad as a kiosk fails in many of the quality and reliability issues which I will outline below.
Touchscreen: The iPad is not a commercial device, and its screen was not meant to be on and used in a public setting 24/7. It was meant to be used intermittently and then turned off. After some time of extended use, the screen eventually becomes unresponsive and needs to be reset.
App freezing: As reliable as Apple's focus on quality has become, apps freezing on the machine are a norm for the product. Even on my own personal iPad, I do not think I have had a single app that hasn't at one point in time frozen and needed some sort of reset. For our own personal devices this is fine, because we either do a soft reset of the machine or do a quick double tap on the main button to quit and restart the app. This process becomes difficult on an iPad kiosk because it now requires someone to be regularly checking in on the unit for freezes, thus defeating the whole principle of a self-service automated network.
Lack of wired Internet: The iPad can only utilize a wireless Internet connection, and for the common consumer it is pretty convenient. Hooking up to a wireless Internet is pretty much a painless process for most people. The problem really is that no wireless Internet connection is anywhere near 100 percent reliable and will eventually have hiccups especially heavily traficked public hotspots. Sometimes this disconnect from the Internet isn't a problem as the iPad can reconnect, but that disconnection can cause other problems, like frozen apps.
These problems aren't necessarily difficult to fix, but when it comes to self-service kiosks that are open to the public, every little problem adds another layer ofcomplexity, which leads to more money and time spent fixing problems instead of presenting information in a useful way.
What about other people out there? Has anyone else experimented with using iPads as a kiosk solution?
Since 2004, Ionescu has built a proprietary software/hardware package for state tourism and hotels. Ionescu believes successful kiosk networks are built upon ongoing collaboration between the client and provider to develop flexible systems that clients and users are happy with for years.