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Kiosks are facilitating businesses and organizations with more tasks than ever, thanks to continuously evolving technology, and the pace of innovation shows no signs of abating.

Part 1 of this two-part series  explored some of the better known emerging examples of emerging applications, such as video conferencing, telemedicine and RFID wrist band dispensing and fund reloading.

Part 2 focuses on more emerging kiosk applications cited by kiosk industry leaders.

‘Purposed’ devices take hold

Laura Miller, director of marketing at KioWare Kiosk Software, sees “purposed devices,” devices designed for a specific purpose, as a major growth opportunity for kiosks.

“A purposed device is that line between mobile management and kiosks,” she said. “It is mobile in that it can be moved around, but maybe it’s only moved within a store, or by one person.”

Purposed devices need to be secure to ensure they are used for the intended purpose, Miller said.

“Construction companies would be using it so that their employees can go out on the job and take measurements and invoice and estimate, but not use the tablet for anything else,” Miller said.

Similarly, sales reps can be given devices to help them demonstrate products to customers without having to print sales materials.

“All they have to do is open KioWare, and all of a sudden it’s a purposed sales tablet for a customer to look through, and that customer can’t exit out and then start navigating through that sales rep’s email or Facebook, whatever,” Miller said.

The ‘endless aisle’ evolves

The concept of the “endless aisle” refers to in-store kiosks that allow customers to order products that are no longer in stock or not sold in the store. The customers can then have the product shipped to their homes.

As ecommerce has expanded, the “endless aisle” has taken on greater importance to retailers and brand marketers. In a 2015 report, Forrester Research noted a large opportunity exists for retailers when they leverage inventory while the customer is shopping within a store. This is important as retailers and brand marketers expand their ecommerce business.

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“Places like Macy’s have been growing their online presence,”  said Michael Ionescu, president of Ionescu Technologies, a kiosk software provider and operator. “It (product availability) is very unreliable from store to store. Some of those locations are on target, but some are terrible and they’re completely mismanaged.”

Kiosks not only allow customers to peruse inventory and place orders. They also give customers more options for picking up online orders.

Amazon pioneered the concept of delivering packages to a locker and sending the customer a pick-up code via email or text messaging. The customer inputs the pick-up code on a touchscreen to open the locker door and retrieve the package.

“If I order something from these department stores with online pickup, I still have to wait in line to go pick it up,” Ionescu said. “Or I have to go to a very specific desk in the department store. That (kiosk locker) could probably help simplify department stores.”

Standardized Protocols Ahead

As kiosk innovations increase, Steve Latham, CEO of Banyan Hills Technologies,  a software provider, integrator and consultant focusing on the kiosk industry, foresees increased standardization of security protocols and Internet of Things architecture.

“There will be an increase in standardization across the board in how devices communicate to each other and to the enterprise as well as standardization of security protocols and IoT architectures,” Latham said. “This level of maturity will help operators and consumers become more comfortable in adopting these technologies, and ultimately will lead to the type of accelerated growth we’ve been reading about within all of the IoT predictions over the past several years.”

(Cover image courtesy of Istock.)

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