Self-service kiosks are a rapidly evolving technology. The more business sectors and individual organisations cotton onto their potential, the more the technology adapts to different applications and needs.
Between now and 2028, the global kiosk market is forecast to more than double from $22.69bn to $51.05bn. That’s a lot more kiosks in the world. How many more innovations will we see along the way?
We can guess at any number of directions the future form and function of kiosks may take. One particularly interesting suggestion is this – could self-serve kiosks one day become touchless?
Powered by touchscreens
To date, touchscreens have been pivotal to the development of kiosk technology. Let’s be honest, touchscreens have become a cornerstone technology full stop over the past decade or so. Just look at the way smartphones have transformed our day-to-day lives. They don’t just give us access to the internet on the move. They put computing in our pocket, ready and available wherever we go.
And that wouldn’t have been possible if the touchscreen interface hadn’t been invented as an alternative to the traditional keyboard and mouse.
Touchscreens have similarly been a key factor in the growth of self-service kiosks because they provide a user interface that is flexible, intuitive, simple and, importantly, robust. In many kiosks, the touchscreen is the core component – an interactive window to software and connectivity that allows users to perform any number of desired tasks.
Other functionality can be added in the form of extra hardware. But that relationship between connectivity, software and the touchscreen interface forms the nucleus.
But what about surface hygiene?
That’s very much the path kiosk technology is currently proceeding along. There’s just one potential bump in the road – hygiene. One legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has made us all much more aware of what we are touching and how we might be unwittingly passing around germs via shared surfaces.
On the one hand, kiosks have played a prominent role in helping businesses adjust to the ‘new normal’ of heightened awareness around infectious disease control. We’ve seen a surge in kiosks deployments in shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies, office receptions and elsewhere in the name of reducing the need for face-to-face interactions between staff and customers.
On the other hand, the prospect of hundreds of people touching the same kiosk screen creates a different kind of transmission concern. We don’t yet know the long-term impact the pandemic will have on people’s attitudes and behaviours. In the short term, people are more conscious about surface hygiene than they were two or three years ago. As a kiosk manufacturer, we’ll certainly be watching carefully to see if that translates into increased reluctance to use shared, public touchscreens.
That’s one reason why the prospect of touchless kiosks is interesting. There are several ways such a concept could be achieved, some of which are already emerging. One is kiosks that operate via an AI voice assistant rather than a touchscreen – a kiosk Alexa or Siri.
There’s a good argument that the user experience would be even more seamless and convenient than using a touchscreen. We’re seeing the potential in the rapid growth in popularity of smart assistants in our homes. Widespread application in kiosks would probably depend on further progress in voice AI development so that it was more feasible for sector and task-specific solutions to enter the market.
An alternative no-touch solution would be to connect a kiosk to smartphones via Bluetooth or similar. Any kind of input required could then be done on an individual’s own device rather than a shared screen.
In our view, it’s unlikely we’ll see touchscreen interfaces on kiosks become redundant any time soon. While concerns about surface hygiene are perfectly valid, it’s also the case that kiosks continue to grow in popularity in part because people like the familiarity and convenience of a touchscreen.
Rather than replace touchscreens, it’s more likely that touchless kiosks will evolve to sit alongside them, adding more choice and variety to what is already an exciting market.
Find out more
Acante kiosk solutions are on the forefront of the latest technology, we are already exploring the possibilities of touchless kiosks throughout our range. For more information contact our sales team on email@example.com, or call us on 0118 988 5522.