Expectations for interactive kiosks in 2014
More than once over the past few years have I heard that the ever expanding functionality of smartphones will eventually make interactive kiosks obsolete. I think the continued growth of the kiosk industry is proving that statement wrong.
On the contrary I think the advancement of mobile technologies, especially on the operating system level, could actually bolster the kiosk market.
Anyone who has worked on developing custom interfaces for interactive digital applications knows that they can be fairly expensive, even for relatively minor customizations. Even getting off the shelf software typically requires some custom tweaks which raises the price significantly.
I think there is hope in the near future for potential solutions that could drive costs down. One of those ways is through the maturation of mobile operating systems like Google's Android OS or Microsoft's Windows platform. Because of the massive community of development support these systems enjoy, there are all kinds of features already built into these operating systems that could make developing interactive digital much more affordable. Features such as bill pay, robust mapping, and intuitive user interface gestures are already built into the operating system, negating the need for a lot of custom programming that robust applications need.
Potentially, a company could create their interactive digital platform as an extension of their mobile app, because the applications are built on the same platform. The two platforms would be so closely related, there would now be even more options in linking a mobile app to a digital kiosk thats in a store or a lobby.
I think a couple things need to happen in order for mobile OSs to be the foundation of interactive digital projects.
First, mobile operating systems need to be able to run on more robust, commercial hardware, not just chips meant for the mobile phone. Windows 8 doesn't suffer from this problem, but I would argue that the Windows platform still needs a lot of work in order to make interactive digital programming more affordable. Anyone who has seen some of the items at CES 2014 may have noticed that the Android OS is indeed being successfully put into desktop machines now. Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before we see some wider commercial support.
Secondly, there would need to be broader driver support to support typical kiosk hardware, i.e. a variety of touchscreens and printers.
Overall, I think the rapid expansion of mobile computing could mean a lot of positive things for the interactive digital industry, especially in terms of affordability and increased opportunity.
Michael Ionescu 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. www