In our first blog post, we listed the three greatest challenges that organizations often face in kiosk projects – dealing with many stakeholders, the technical components of kiosk deployment and the post-deployment technical and operational issues.
In Part 2 of this series, we'll discuss the challenges that the various technical components of a kiosk system impose.
There are a number of technical components within a kiosk system. If you are implementing a system, you will first need to know what kinds of components need to be integrated into a system. Then, the next question is how to select, integrate and manage those components.
A typical kiosk consists of the following hardware components.
Kiosk enclosure houses, mounts and secures other kiosk components. When choosing a kiosk enclosure, the key considerations include the following:
- Do the quality, durability and ergonomics meet the standards of kiosk usage?
- Does the design align with your organization's branding?
- Is it compliant with safety-related and ADA regulations?
- Does it meet maintenance requirements?
A kiosk computer is the engine that runs a kiosk system. It consists of various components such as CPU, RAM, hard disk, power supply, fan, speaker and an external interface that connects other devices to the computer.
The choice is between a commercial grade personal consumer such as Dell or HP PCs or integrated units of industrial computer boards and components. While the former is less expensive, the latter is generally better in terms of reliability, longevity and availability of replacement parts.
The required machine specs depend on which application you are running on the kiosk. For example, if the kiosk plays high-definition videos, it needs more graphic power than the one that shows only static images.
Input and output devices
Among wide variety of I/O devices, the commonly used ones include:
- LCD Display +touch panel
- Printer (thermal or laser)
- Magnetic card reader
- Digital signage display (second display)
- PIN pad, keyboard, track ball
- Signature pad
- Cash accepter
- Proximity sensor
- 2-D barcode reader
- Web camera
- NFC/RFID reader
Careful consideration will be required in selecting I/O devices. Unlike kiosk applications, which you can easily add features to and modify or improve over time, adding or changing devices after implementation can be a major hassle. Make sure to incorporate I/O devices that facilitate the long-term goal of your kiosk implementation.
Also, it is important to select industrial-quality I/O devices to ensure the availability of your kiosk system. Please note that the quality of individual components directly affects the quality of the kiosk as a whole.
Major software components include:
- OS (Windows OS)
- Kiosk application (such as a retail loyalty program application or a healthcare patient check-in system)
- Kiosk platform middleware/software
- Remote management system
We will discuss the software components in detail in one of our future blog posts.
In order to ensure the reliability of the kiosk system, it is critical to select and integrate all of these components in an optimized way. Since this requires expertise and experience, it is best to choose an experienced kiosk vendor to work with.
One of the common mistakes of an unsuccessful kiosk project is to choose a kiosk vendor that offers the lowest price, but has limited integration capabilities. The results of such are generally poor quality kiosks, high maintenance costs, and low customer satisfaction.
Once you choose the right kiosk company, make sure that it selects and tightly integrates industrial quality hardware components. Conducting a thermal analysis and a series of tests including design verification tests, performance tests, component tests and system tests will also significantly increase the reliability of the kiosk system.
Check back in a couple weeks for part three of this blog, which will explain how to manage the kiosk system and minimize technical and operational issues after kiosk implementation.
Natsumi Nakamura is in charge of the product marketing for kiosk hardware and software solutions at PFU Systems. She has also played a critical role in hardware/software development as well as business development for several kiosk projects.