If you want people to be able to access your services, buy products from you or find out information, but do not feel that employing additional employees to do these tasks is very cost effective for you, then you might want to consider using interactive kiosks instead. They are computer-like devices that allow people to serve themselves. You will probably have used one yourself before, as they are a common sight in stores, libraries and company reception areas. A standard kiosk allows people to access the internet, view multimedia files and run software applications. What exactly people can do it on it is up to you though, as you can have it set-up in any way that you like. So, if you do not want people to be able to access the internet from it, then you can turn off that option. They work best when they optimized to do certain tasks. You can just have a single tailor-made software application running on it if you like, which allows users to only do a particular thing, such as buying a product or entering their personal details. Inside the outer casing of an interactive kiosk you will find a processor, RAM and a hard disk. These parts are typically exactly the same as those used in home computers. As for the display, a standard computer monitor can be used or, if you really want to impress the user, you can get a kiosk fitted with a large plasma or LCD screen. How the outer casing looks is up to you, and you can have them made in pretty much any design or style that you want. Branding is easy – you can have the whole unit in the colors of your company logo if you want to. Of course, this is optional, and if you just plan to use a kiosk ‘behind the scenes’ then you can get a plain, box unit to keep costs down. Kiosks also contain additional peripheral devices to provide increased functionality to users. For example, a library self-service kiosk might have a barcode reader for scanning library books and library cards, while a movie theater ticket kiosk might have a credit card reader for making transactions and a printer for printing tickets. Additionally, special input devices, such as touchscreens and trackballs, are often used to make the kiosk as easy-to-use as possible. It is up to you whether to allow the users of a kiosk to have access to all of the capabilities of the software installed on it or whether to restrict their access to just one or a few applications. As for the types of applications that can be installed, you can install everything that can be installed on a home computer and more. You can have new applications specially coded for you if there is not an off the shelf application that is suitable for your needs. Different levels of user access can be set, so you have the option to give public users basic access and management full access.
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