Kiosks are best known for providing self-service ordering and checkout options in retail and hospitality. But there’s an argument to say that the most common (or at least the most broadly applicable) use for kiosks is as information points.

From airports to libraries, office complexes to hospitals, transport hubs to museums and other leisure attractions, kiosks provide a convenient, accessible way to communicate required information. They put the user in charge, and their interactive nature is engaging – and even, we daresay, fun.

Together with the user-friendly familiarity of their touchscreen interfaces, information kiosks seem to have struck a winning formula. But technology doesn’t stand still. There are always new innovations on the horizon, and always ways to improve even the most successful products.

One of the most talked about emerging technologies right now is generative AI, the type of artificial intelligence behind ChatGPT. You have probably heard of generative AI as the technology that is going to solve all your content-creating headaches. But there’s every chance it will have a transformative effect on the kiosk experience, too, and especially information kiosks. Here’s why.

Next-generation chatbots

There’s no question that ChatGPT and its successors like Google Gemini and Microsoft Copilot have changed the game when it comes to AI. There’s a lot of hype about how this new generation of AI has in effect matched human creative prowess, and can now be put to work churning out blogs, news articles, reports, books, images, and even the code that underpins the software that underpins so much of the modern world.

There’s some way to go before generative AI matches the craft and subtlety of professional creatives (disclaimer: this blog was NOT written by a bot!) But aside from all the writing hoo-ha, there’s another side to generative AI that deserves more attention. And probably has more of an immediate application in business.

In their current guise, the likes of ChatGPT, Gemini and Copilot represent the next generation of chatbot and search technology as much as they promise to answer the world’s content creation problems. By being trained on data sets called Large Language Models (LLMs), generative AI can assimilate complex information quickly and efficiently, and use it to answer complex questions in efficient, relevant and relatable ways.

You can see the potential for information kiosks straight away. Instead of responding to simple questions with simple answers, or providing a menu of possible answers the way a traditional search engine does, LLM-trained chatbots will be able to give very precise answers to much more complex questions.

A good example is the potential to use kiosks to provide accurate triaging services when patients arrive at A&E, removing that initial wait time. Google already has a specialist medical LLM which it expects to be able to operate such tools within a couple of years.

LLMs can be ‘trained’ on any sufficiently large dataset, making generative AI-powered self-service adaptable to any use case. Other benefits include the fact that combined with machine learning capabilities, generative AI chatbots will be able to recognise patterns in queries and responses, using so-called sentiment analysis to tailor the assistance they provide to the user’s intentions and even emotions.

The possibilities are endless, but the advantages all coalesce around the same themes – a more sophisticated, targeted, personalised approach to self-service information that has the potential to take the kiosk experience to another level.