Predicting the future of kiosks

Nov. 23, 2015 | by Bradley Cooper

When people think of the first user-friendly operating system, what probably comes to mind is Windows, which launched in the 1980s and expanded to become a household name. However, most people probably are unaware that the first kiosk was created eight years before Windows. According to Technology Pundits, the first kiosk, known as the Plato Hotline, was designed in 1977 by a pre-med student in the University of Illinois. It used a plasma touchscreen and allowed users to look at maps of campuses, directories and bus schedules. Following Plato, the first retail kiosk came on the scene in 1984, the Florsheim Express Shop. It enabled customers to browse and purchase shoes from the store. Kiosks have had a long interesting history, and their future may prove to be equally interesting.

According to Ben Wheeler, director of marketing for kiosk manufacturer RedyRef Interactive Kiosks, there are a few new "killer apps" in the kiosk industry we can expect to see more of in the future. Two of these killer apps are medical marijuana kiosks and medicine dispensing kiosks, according to Wheeler.

We are beginning to see a few deployments of marijuana kiosks in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal or recreational purposes in the case of Colorado and Washington. One example is Janefour20, a manufacturer of marijuana dispensary kiosks.

The Janefour20 kiosk addresses some of the challenges of selling marijuana, mainly regulations and cash management. It uses a cloud-based system to ensure all financial and regulatory standards are met, according to its website. It also registers every new user and creates transaction reports for every transaction. This is designed to allow dispensaries to have accurate reports to turn in to their banking partners. Finally, the company uses its own armored truck to pick up cash from the kiosk and does not allow retailers to access the vault.

In the field of health care, we have seen a significant amount of innovation. There are two main areas that health care kiosks are expanding into: pharmacy vending and telemedicine. Pharmacy kiosks can be utilized to reach remote areas where pharmacies are uncommon or in high-traffic areas such as malls. For example, Pharmabox recently deployed its kiosks to Miami outdoor mall The Falls. The Pharmabox kiosk carries 140 of the top selling brands and products such as cold and allergy medicines, stomach and digestive medicines and men's and women's personal health items.

With telemedicine kiosks, we are seeing a self-service solution to a common activity of doctor office visits. For example, HealthSpot kiosks enable doctor telepresence where users can have virtual checkups from doctors via teleconferencing. The kiosk has several medical tools such as stethoscopes, blood tests, pulse oximeter and more. The doctor informs the user how to utilize the tools.

Another key driver for future of kiosks is tablet adoption. Wheeler believes we will see a greater trend toward tablet kiosks, especially with Windows tablets. "All-in-one solutions as they migrate to Windows based platforms will start to overcome the obstacles we have seen of Android tablets communicating with Windows-based components. When this happens, we will see the max exodus to these smaller-form-factor devices," Wheeler said. "Furthermore, as I/O is more available with the Windows Platforms, the velocity of the change will increase exponentially."

In general, with new kiosk deployments and startups starting on a regular basis, it is fairly accurate to say that kiosks will have a bright future.


Topics: Hardware, Healthcare / Hospitals, Retail, Trends / Statistics

Companies: RedyRef Interactive Kiosks



Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing. wwwView Bradley Cooper's profile on LinkedIn

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