Watch Self-Service World in the coming days for full coverage of the Show.
SAN ANTONIO — One of the new features at the Self-Service & Kiosk show was a dedicated "C-Store Zone." Sponsored by the Texas Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, the Zone featured c-store-specific technology from three leading companies — two of which were familiar faces, Triton and Tranax.
Triton, a titan in the ATM field, was demonstrating its road-tested RL5000 ATM, an inexpensive and petite machine that nonetheless boasts a Windows operating system, 10.4-inch color LCD display and room for up to four cassettes. Nearby, Tranax offered a test-drive of its X4000 ATM and the optional HK2000 sidecar that adds TIO Network bill-payment functionality.
But a new name was also on the marquee, one historically associated with consumer electronics and POS systems: Casio. Although the company has been in the POS business for three decades, it has only been in the kiosk business a few short months.
"We think it's a booming market, and we can do it," said Casio's Steve Semones, who said his company's first appearance at a kiosk show was KioskCom in April. "Our touchscreen is technically a kiosk, but up until now we've just been selling it as a POS."
The kiosk in question is the Casio QT-8000, an integrated PC/touchscreen terminal with a very small, portable form factor. The screen is a 15-inch TFT-LCD, with a resolution of 1024x768 and IPX1 water splash-proof construction. The compact machine comes preloaded with Windows 2000, is XP compatible, and boasts the usual litany of expansion ports.
Casio has had success so far with express check-in, restaurant ordering, product information and grocery. Its software partners on kiosk applications have included Nextep Systems, LOC Software and Micro$ale POS.
Also on Friday â€¦
Keynote speaker T. Scott Gross entertained a near-capacity crowd with stories and wisdom from his career as a customer service advocate. The author of When Customer Talk and Positively Outrageous Service encourages companies to create disruptive customer experiences — service that is far better than anyone expects — and make those positive experiences appear random.
"There are only two emotions behind every decision," he said. "'I want to feel good,' or â€˜I'm afraid if I don't do this, I will feel bad.'"
He also emphasized the need to understand generational differences, boiling them down to one key distinction: "Young people are stuff buyers," he said, "older people are experience buyers."
First-time exhibitor ADFLOW Networks stopped traffic with its living room-style booth — that is, if your living room is bordered by almost a dozen high-definition LCD displays. Company president David Roscoe spoke to a seminar crowd about the basics of digital signage and the early questions to ask, with real-world examples from its installations in Office Max and Roots. (For more information, download the free how-to guide, "Digital Signage and One-to-One Marketing," sponsored by ADFLOW.)
ATM Marketplace editor Tracy Kitten spoke to an afternoon crowd on "The Ever-Changing Financial Self-Service Industry," with an emphasis on making intelligent choices when it comes to offering financial services on an unattended device. She emphasized the fact that while many companies are jockeying to be the dominant provider to the Latino unbanked/underbanked market, the African-American unbanked/underbanked segment — which is much bigger — is largely being ignored.
Immersion, always an industry favorite, displayed its tactile feedback flat screens, which give users a satisfying experience when they select a touchpoint on the screen. The screen responds with a regionalized vibration, sometimes accompanied by sound, that simulates the feeling one has when pressing a physical button.
Beyond Immersion, the show welcomed some relatively new market entrants like Japan's PFU, a Fujitsu company that develops kiosks, media terminals and technical solutions. PFU is working to spread its products and message to and through the United States, and the company has an interesting story to tell. One of the largest kiosk manufacturers in Japan, PFU has shipped more than 30,000 units since 1995.
PFU touted its Media Engine — a tight system that runs on Windows CE and attaches to the back of the LCD. It's been on the market about six months, and the company has big plans for its deployment. The Engine can run on a variety of LCDs with a variety of applications. It can top a kiosk box or rest on a counter. It can be a digital display as well as provide interaction.