The use of kiosks has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. The increase has been driven in part by declining costs, but more and more companies are recognizing the potential kiosks have for enhancing customer experience and increasing sales. Kiosks offer a variety of ways to improve your business, such as dispensing products, delivering a marketing campaign or facilitating online shopping. However, delivering the best experience for the user depends on selecting the proper hardware. There is no need to buy the most expensive of each item, but it is important to choose the ones that will make the best combination for your needs.
One of the most critical components of a kiosk is the monitor, also called the viewing panel or touchscreen. You should definitely choose a screen with in-plane switching, or IPS. IPS maximizes the display for any viewing angle to render accurate and consistent color. IPS screens do not show tailing or brighten when they are touched, which is especially important for touchscreen kiosks.
Consider the size of monitor you actually need. Once you go beyond the 27-inch size, the price increased significantly, because you are entering the realm of professional digital signage, including perceptive pixel designs. You also need to decide how many touch-points you actually need. If you need the ability for multiple people to interact simultaneously, the price will be more than a screen with a single touch-point.
Although there are many monitors on the market that are good choices for kiosks, here are two excellent ones:
- Dell 27" Touch Monitor P2714T, MSRP $700, but available direct from Dell for as little as $520
- Planar Helium PCT2785 27-inch slim profile, multi-touch monitor, list price $650
Separating the computer from the screen helps increase reliability, but it also allows you to choose from a greater range of options. Look for a PC that has networking capabilities and supports digital audio and full-motion video. Like monitors, there are many choices available. One of our clients uses the HP-535764, which is an HP MP4 digital signage player that is slim and compact, and it has proven to be reliable when used in kiosks. This particular model sells for between $450 and $550.
The function of your kiosk determines whether you need a printer at all. If one is required, function determines the type. For example, a more basic printer can be used if the kiosk only prints receipts, but one that dispenses maps or event tickets will need a printer with greater capabilities.
- Enclosure: Whether the kiosk is a small wall unit or a large free-standing model, its components need some type of enclosure or frame. Most are metal, but fiberglass, wood and plastic enclosures are also available. The location of the kiosk is the primary factor in deciding the type of enclosure needed.
- Card reader: If the kiosk is to accept credit and debit cards, you will need a magstripe card reader.
- Signature pad: Your kiosk will not need a signature pad unless users will need to sign for a purchase, authorize a credit application or provide a signature for incorporation in the product, such as a personalized greeting card.
- Speakers, telephones and video cameras: Kiosks may need these components if the user will need to connect to a representative while using the kiosk or receive audible instructions, or if the kiosk is geared toward sound, such as a kiosk offering music previews.
Businesses need to think in terms of return-on-investment when designing a kiosk. It is possible to build a kiosk using all of the finest components whether the function requires them or not. However, it makes more business sense to match the components to the need, spending only what is necessary to provide the proper functionality.
If you need help designing your kiosk, feel free to contact EX2 Solutions for more information. Our team has extensive experience in kiosk development as well as software design.