What's a kiosk?

April 18, 2012 | by Michael Ionescu
What's a kiosk?

I try not to use the word kiosk when speaking with potential clients. For those of us who are in the kiosk industry, and even for those of us who browse this website, we are very familiar with the idea of the modern kiosk, which typically refers to some sort of digital interactive standalone device that helps provide a service to someone. But, if you were to ask the typical person walking down the street what a kiosk is, I bet 3 out of 5 people will have a slightly different definition of what a kiosk is.

Some people think of a kiosk as typical food kiosk selling hot dogs; some think of a mall kiosk that a person sits behind to sell novelties. Others think of them as booths that you approach to pick up brochures. The problem is that all of these definitions are correct. The technical definition of a kiosk refers to any kind of an open booth that distributes information or sells something.

The problem is that the modern kiosk is one that typically refers to a digital, sometimes an interactive experience. This very website obviously focuses on that very type of modern kiosk. Nowhere on this site do you read about the latest innovation in street corner vendor kiosks.

The definition of a kiosk is such a general one, and very few "regular" people actually think of digital interactive signage when they think of the word kiosk that I've often wondered what the point is of calling digital interactive displays kiosks. I've often thought a different word should be used.

A few reasons for this:

1. If you've read some of my previous blogs you'll see that that word kiosk actually has a negative connotation to it, because of negative experiences people have had with previous interactive kiosk implementations. If an organization has tried and failed at a kiosk program, hearing the word kiosk again, typically will result in a very speedy rejection.

2.The word kiosk is just a very general term. Even when I'm showing people demos of products, they don't have a clear idea of how flexible and unique interactive kiosks can be until they see it live. Why should we use such a general word to describe such a unique product?

So what's the solution?

I still don't know. I I feel like the era of interactive digital signage deserves a better term than "kiosk." Over the past years, I always try different names, such as digital information system, public access terminal, etc., but I haven't had anything really stick. Maybe it will require a stand-out company to come out with a reputation of reliability to build a strong brand like Apple did with its product line. I was thinking of not writing the blog until I could come up with a solution, but I figure I'd get the conversation going to see what others had to say.

Have any of you had any thoughts about giving the digital kiosk a different name? Any problems experiencing confusion with the word kiosk? Leave your comments below.



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. wwwView Michael Ionescu's profile on LinkedIn

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