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Self-service kiosk transformation
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Trends and Technologies that Transformed Self-Service Kiosk Hardware

Self-service kiosks have already become indispensable in a plethora of industries like banking, hospitality, restaurants, transportation, telecom, retail etc. Nowadays, many of the tasks that we perform on a day-to-day basis wouldn’t be possible without self-service kiosk machines. These interactive machines have become part and parcel of our lives. However, the machines we rely on today originated from the very basics. It all began with the creative thinking of a few innovators! In this blog, we’ll delve through the trends and innovations that brought about a significant change in the performance and capabilities of self-service kiosks.

Self-service kiosk facts!

  • The concept of self-service in the form of vending machines was first introduced in history in the 1st century AD by the ancient Romans! The purpose of the vending machine was to dispense holy water.
  • It was after many centuries that the same old concept of “vending machine” was used to dispense various other products or goods like tobacco, stamps and writing paper.
  • The 1880s witnessed the introduction of vending machines that dispensed postcards, envelops, eatables like chewing gums, matches etc.
self-service kiosk machine
vending machine
  • The early 1900s even saw the introduction of food and beverages dispensing machines followed by soda vending machines in the 1940s.
  • In 1939, a Turkish-based inventor named Luther Simjian came up with a unique concept called a “hole in the wall machine”. The machine was designed to handle cash transactions and was the first prototype self-service cash dispensing unit. The concept did not attain the intended traction due to a lack of active involvement from the part of public. Maybe, the concept was way ahead of its time!
  • The earliest form of the present-day self-service kiosk is credited to a banking ATM, deployed by the Barclays Bank in London, way back in 1967. The machine was the brainchild of the British inventor named John Shepherd-Barron. The ATM performed the basic banking transactions like cash dispensing and had a withdrawal limit of £10. The present-day ATM cards were not invented at the time. Instead, they relied on a PIN (Personal Identification Number).
  • Most importantly, this simple kiosk machine helped people reduce the number of visits to bank branches during busy banking hours. A fantastic innovation for the late 60s!
  • An Information Kiosk was deployed at the University of Illinois in 1977.
  • Later the use of self-service kiosk got diversified into other industries and domains like entertainment, transportation, education, retail etc. in the form of check-in kiosk, food ordering kiosks, bill payment kiosk etc.
  • The ATM machines became part of the mainstream banking in the late 1980s.
  • With the smartphone and internet boom of the 90s, the kiosk innovators realized the potential of self-service kiosk in a user-centric perspective. Improving the Customer Experience (CX) through technology integration became one of the top priorities in the self-service domain.

It is interesting to note that the very first self-service kiosk machines had humble beginnings. They housed basic hardware components capable of performing the intended tasks. In fact, the sophistication and ergonomics that we see in present-generation machines were missing in their predecessors.

self-service kiosk hardware

The early stages of hardware

In the early stages of the self-service kiosk machine, the hardware components comprised of the basic units that are mentioned below.

  • Input devices – came with input buttons and featured membrane keyboards that had very less tactile feedback.
  • Display screen – the very first machines came with a basic CRT display screen that displayed information to the users.
  • Printer – The very first machines were the thermal or the dot matrix type and performed the basic ticket or receipt-printing task.
  • Kiosk Enclosure – made out of durable plastic or metal, protected the components from environmental factors.
  • Control Unit – facilitated the smooth functioning of the kiosk machine and housed the CPU, memory, storage etc.
  • Networking components – facilitated back-end communications and remote monitoring tasks. The components were limited to the basic Ethernet adapters.
  • Payment terminal – The payment terminal housed card readers, bill and coin acceptors to handle cash or card transactions.

The above hardware components laid the foundation of the sophisticated, most-modern and ergonomic kiosk machines that we see and experience today across diverse verticals. With technological innovations, more advanced hardware components got integrated that resulted in the improved functionality of the kiosk machines.

The hardware components evolved in such a way that the transformation improved the overall Customer Experience and practicality of the modern self-service kiosk machine.

Trends and technologies that fuelled the advancement of self-service kiosk machine hardware

There are several factors that propelled the advancement of self-service kiosk machine hardware. The significant one being the technology boom, there are others like shifting customer behavior, growing business needs, market demand etc. Here, we shall delve into how certain trends and technology served as a catalyst in the advancement of self-service kiosk hardware.

  • Technological improvements – With technological improvements came advanced processors, memory, display capabilities and storage that drastically improved the performance of the kiosk machine. Improved Customer Experience (CX) was achieved by using upgraded hardware components that could manage numerous applications without sacrificing overall performance.
  • Touchscreen technology - The introduction of touchscreen technology was actually a paradigm shift in the evolution of self-service kiosks as it provided a more engaging and user-friendly interface. Today’s kiosks make use of capacitive touchscreens, resistive touchscreens and even the highly sensitive Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) touchscreens which make it convenient for consumers to traverse menus, enter data, and finish transactions.
latest self-service kiosk design
selfservice kiosk
  • Wireless technology – The advent of wireless technology such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enhanced all facets of connectivity and communication. Enhanced connectivity improved backend and remote server communications which, in turn, enabled real-time software updates. Moreover, wireless technology helps service providers deploy kiosk machines where wired connectivity is not possible or feasible.
  • Biometric Authentication – For user identification and authentication purposes, self-service kiosks use sophisticated technologies such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition. When it comes to preventing fraud and identity theft, these solutions are incredibly practical and efficient. The kiosks that are loaded with Biometric authentication have dedicated biometric sensors like fingerprint or iris scanners or facial recognition camera to capture various biometric data or user traits.
  • Feature-rich, multifunctional kiosks – The self-service kiosk evolved from a machine with limited functionality to one with substantial functional capabilities, making it a more capable, adaptable, and practical self-service option.
    As the market demand increased, the service providers had to work with minimal infrastructure to enable a single touch point that could handle diverse transactions. As a result, the development of multipurpose kiosks advanced. Modern kiosks are equipped with enhanced hardware capabilities to manage a wide range of tasks like ticket issuing, document and photo printing, check-in and check-out operations, etc. Both the service providers and the end customers benefit immensely from self-service kiosks.
  • Networking components – With the boom of internet connectivity various other components became part of the self-service kiosk. Wi-Fi modules, Ethernet adapters, and modems come under this category. They provide the necessary networking capability and internet connectivity to perform vital tasks like remote tracking, data retrieval and software updates.
  • Upgraded kiosk enclosures – Apart from protecting the kiosk from physical elements like harsh weather and dust, the modern kiosk enclosures are ergonomic and sleek. The kiosk manufactures have improved the durability of the enclosure to a great degree giving importance to Sustainability. These enclosures offer sufficient ventilation and security features too. For example, the kiosk enclosures are fitted with mounting brackets to enhance the security while deployment. The present-day interactive kiosk machines require less infrastructure requirements when it comes to deployment, which means they are highly flexible.
  • Barcode scanner – performs QR code or barcode scanning for the purpose of data exchange. Barcode scanners are used for a wide range of purposes like parking, access control, ticket-reading, check-in and check-outs etc. Barcoding technology is widely used in groceries and supermarkets for the purpose of billing.
  • Card reader – A card reader reads information from magnetic stripe cards, EMV cards, NFC, etc., and authorize payment transactions.

The banking industry initially used the magnetic stripe cards to store customer information. Soon, other industries like transportation, entertainment, retail etc. adopted the technology. The technology has now evolved to EMV chip cards and RFID cards that offer improved security. The EMV chip cards have an inbuilt security feature that prevents data breaches and other fraudulent practices. RFID is widely used for Asset tracking and Inventory Management.

  • Bitcoin ATM kiosks – Blockchain technology has led to the rise of Bitcoin ATM kiosks that facilitate the purchase of cryptocurrency in exchange for traditional currency. The hardware components of a typical Bitcoin ATM comprise Cash Dispenser, QR code scanner, Bill validator, printer and kiosk enclosure.

To Conclude

The hardware components that are listed above perform most of the present-day kiosk tasks. But the market demands are constantly growing. And technology innovation is happening by leaps and bounds. Kiosk hardware has evolved over time to satisfy the shifting demands of both customers and service providers. Self-service kiosks have been in the scene for several decades, improving the operational efficiency of the service provider and improving customer experiences. We can expect further advancements in kiosk hardware as technology develops, which will pave the way for even more remarkable trends and advancements in the kiosk industry!