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What Is a Computer Kiosk?

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  • Written By: Nathan Spicer
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 03 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A computer kiosk is a stationary or mobile, stand-alone, small-format PC with an integrated housing unit. The terminal usually contains a monitor and keyboard or pointing device, unless it is touch-screen operated. Most kiosks come pre-packaged with software and are designed to handle specific tasks. Common uses of computer kiosks include welcome stations, navigation systems, customer support, or new product launches.

The kiosk’s intended tasks depend on the business using the computer kiosk. For example, events with large amounts of participants and required registration may use kiosks to facilitate quicker entry processes. Instead of each attendee signing their names in massive books or interacting with event handlers, a kiosk may be configured to handle such situations. The attendees simply use the computer kiosk to enter their names, and perhaps credit card or ticket information for identification purposes, and the computer handles the background registration information.

Kiosks are usually designed for "self-service," meaning patrons may use the device without outside instruction. Great care, therefore, is usually taken to ensure their software and hardware are intuitively designed. The operating systems are usually common and universally understood to ensure the majority of users immediately understand proper procedures.

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Though many are stationary, some computer kiosks allow mobility. In hospitals, tailor-made kiosks allow nurses to travel from various rooms without the need to carry a computer. Instead, the computer is situated inside a mobile stand that reaches about four feet. A computer’s monitor and keyboard are laid out in a comfortable way to allow easy functionality and access; usually this means setting each device at arm’s length.

Advances in technology have allowed many kiosks to forego the traditional mouse-and-keyboard layout in favor of touch-screens. This allows even more intuitive use of the machines. Users no longer need to worry about possessing any computer knowledge to operate the system.

All interactive kiosks are basically some form of computer kiosk. All kiosks are developed using software written for user-interface purposes. Even the popular Redbox movie-rental kiosks that are rapidly gaining popularity, though touch-screen operated and free of a keyboard and mouse, are developed using such user-interface software.

Computer kiosks appear in a variety of locations, from small cubicle-type areas at stores that permit applicants to apply for a job, to mobile, wheeled stations that many hospitals incorporate. They are extremely handy and remove a great deal of excessive human interaction. This permits more fluid customer movement, and allows organizations to employ fewer employees to manage customer interactions.

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Discuss this Article

anon941121
Post 3

What is the type of computing device running behind the touch screen system?

wander
Post 2

One of the best computer kiosks I have seen are the ones that they have put in at the airport. These kiosks are used to check you in, and prevent you from having to wait in line for hours just to get 5 minutes of face time with an airport employee.

At the kiosk you can scan your own passport, choose your seats, print boarding passes and even prepare your baggage for check in.

I really love these new computer kiosks for making my trips to the airport less painful and stressful. I recommend them to anyone traveling. If you are not sure if your airline offers these kiosks, you should call and ask.

animegal
Post 1

I worked at a large bookstore and computer kiosks were a great addition to our workplace. They made our jobs much easier and really helped us answer our customer’s questions.

With so many book titles available for order having a computer kiosk, which was hooked to the Internet, allowed staff and customers alike, to easily find anything they were looking for.

These kiosks made our lives as salespeople much more efficient as we could answer questions about even the most obscure product instantly.

The in store kiosks also allowed customers to order items that weren't in stock. This was a wonderful feature because it was less likely we would lose a sale.

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