What is a computer kiosk?

A computer kiosk is basically a computer with some form of integrated housing unit. The simplest models are usually little more than an ordinary desktop or tablet strapped to or fixed to a table of some sort, often at the average height of someone standing to work or access it, while the more complex examples are screen machines. fully simplified touch-screens, as they are often seen at airport and train station self-service check-in counters. There are many uses and variations, although most are intended for handling self-service tasks, whether that be pulling books out of a library or ordering a number at a butcher’s. Most kiosks come pre-packaged with software and are designed to handle the specific tasks the machine will perform, and in most cases computers are not capable of robust use unrelated to the task at hand.

An ATM is an example of a computer kiosk.

core components

The terminal is what most people think of when they see a computer kiosk, and in many ways this box is what defines the machine. Likewise, kiosks can come in a wide variety of options, often specific to the intended use. Some are very large, often featuring multiple screens and multiple controls, while others are miniature. The main thing they all have in common is that they are a single unit. A computer on a desk is generally not considered a kiosk unless the two are inseparable by design.

Many malls have a self-service kiosk designed to help shoppers locate stores and access other information.

In most cases, the screen is the only truly essential component of the computer. Keyboards and mice are sometimes used, but not always. Advances in technology have allowed many kiosks to forgo the traditional mouse and keyboard layout in favor of touchscreens. This allows for even more intuitive use of machines and often reduces the chance of hardware failure – which can be a real concern in high-traffic areas such as transportation hubs and hospitals.

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Main purposes and primary uses

Kiosks are generally designed for “self-service”, meaning that users can use the device without external instructions. Therefore, great care is generally taken to ensure that software and hardware are designed intuitively. Operating systems are generally common and universally understood to ensure that most users immediately understand the proper procedures.

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

The intended tasks of the kiosk depend on the company using it. For example, events with attendees in the thousands that require registration can use kiosks to facilitate faster entry processes. Instead of each attendee signing their names into huge books or interacting with event handlers, a kiosk can be set up to handle check-in issues. Participants simply enter their names on the self-service screen, perhaps along with their credit card or ticket information for identification purposes, and the computer handles the background registration information. Most also print tickets, maps and other useful information.

Possibility of Mobility

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. Computers are situated inside a mobile stand that reaches about four feet in these cases. As with most other kiosks, the monitor and keyboard are normally laid out in a comfortable way to allow easy functionality and access; usually this means setting each device at arm’s length.

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Security Concerns

In the early days of public computers, kiosks posed a number of concerns when it came to information security, largely in the context of malicious hacks and information data breaches. Modern software has largely quelled these concerns, at least insofar as stored on and accessible through kiosk machines is easily locked down and restricted. Most of the problems people have with kiosks today is normal malfunctions and breakdowns that have nothing to do with security breaches or data loss. Especially machines age, they’re more prone to stalling, freezing, and dropping requests mid-process. As such, operators, particularly those in very high volume places, are usually wise to commit to regular maintenance and servicing to avoid problems.

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