Kiosks change in the age of touch

iPad navigation at Aloft Brussels SchumannAbout five years ago, I worked on kiosk software. This seemed like the logical thing to do after working on Linux LiveCD’s. It was meant to be an information kiosk for tourists to use, and just short of building & deploying the thing in a production environment, the bid was lost (worst off kiosk, cost 4x more, but given to a bumi husband & wife team – the remnants of the produce can still be seen today).

A lot has changed in 5 years. Back then this was a Linux terminal with Firefox running the interface. It was locked down. This was long before I discovered WebConverger for kiosk software.

Today, iPad’s suffice as kiosks. Kids have iPad’s to appease them from the time they are young. The iPad replaced the TV. Babies get used to touch before they say their first words.

So an iPad interface to show off your hotel like at the Aloft Brussels Schumann? This is just brilliant. For the people that go to stay at Aloft’s (say the W isn’t available in that location), they are likely already used to using i-devices.

Interface matters and iOS is the benchmark. I’m not sure X Windows and a browser will suffice even though they are almost the same thing. I’m not even sure if future kiosks will have a physical keyboard (we planned on it, with a trackball). Now you touch, type using a virtual keyboard and don’t need a pointing device any longer except your finger.

I went to the European Parliament for a tour and they had these iPod Touch devices with NOUSGuide on them. NOUSGuide have some opensource software available if that matters. I really enjoyed touring and understanding more about the Parliament using the iPod Touch. Again, its the touch and the familiarity with iOS that matters. Back in the day you got audio guides that worked when you scanned a code, or entered a number – horrible interfaces but they worked. These i-devices however show you more, and you can interact with the media – its no longer just audio, but photos and videos.

Hotels offer business centres and while they are full-fledged PCs they usually run in kiosk mode. For a while, the InterContinental in Seoul offered loaner Samsung tablets (for obvious reasons). The Park Hyatt just across the road offers loaner iPad’s. Again, touch is taking over from being in a stodgy business centre.

Interesting trend to see Apple devices take over in all these markets. There is also a changing face in the way we interact with kiosk-like computing devices. The future is clearly looking very i-device based.