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 October 22, 1999

Companies finding new uses for kiosks with Web technology

BROOMFIELD — “May I help you?” is increasingly being replaced by Broomfield-based KIS-Kiosk, manufacturer of self-service technology terminals. Soon, we’ll be using the machines to order food at McDonald’s, buy subway tokens in San Francisco or ship a swing set home.

Forget the kiosks for concert posters on the Pearl Street Mall and think electronic kiosks — like ATMs, the concept that revolutionized self-service terminals.

“Before ATMs, we used people to do the same service at a much higher cost,´ said Kiosk Information Systems (KIS) President Rick Malone. “ATMs have fundamentally changed the way the banking industry operates.”

Initially, banks enticed customers to use the ATM by paying them for each electronic transaction. Today, because virtually everyone is familiar with how to use an ATM, the door is open for broader kiosk applications.

KIS designs, manufactures and installs terminals ranging from glorified vending machines to sophisticated multimedia transaction machines. Each product uses a combination of computer technology, communications methods, video and multimedia presentations and a variety of other interactive input devices.

U S West is planning a rollout of WEBStop — Internet phone booths for people to check their e-mail, visit Web sites and make Internet credit card purchases.

“Everyone knows these booths will be used,” Malone says. “Now, our customers are trying to grab turf. They want the locations.”

“KIS is very strong in design and engineering. They can come up with a new design and create prototypes that are almost perfect in just a few weeks,´ said Peter VanHorne of CAIS Software Solutions, a software maker who developed the WEBStop package. “Our software manages Internet kiosks in the field and the back office, collecting payment and managing the terminals.” CAIS has 500 terminals deployed in airports shopping malls, major convention hotels and other public places.

Park ‘n’ View, another version of a pay-per-use Internet kiosk, is planned for truck stops across the United States.

“That’s one of our more successful introductions,” Malone said. “It turns out truckers have a high concentration of laptop users — about 25 percent. They use the Web to get loads, permits and fulfill reporting requirements,” he said.

In addition to the Internet booths, KIS developed FastTake — a terminal in video stores allowing customers to preview 500 movie trailers at Blockbuster and Movie Gallery Stores. IBM Fastgate clears international business travelers through immigration using a hand geometry reader that matches a palm print against an identification credit card. SwingLab, a golf lesson kiosk, uses unique camera angles to overlay your golf swing against a pro’s.

E-TV displays a retailer’s Web site in the store. The Internet monitors may offer additional or out-of-stock selections, accept customer complaints and build a database from in store customers.

“Web site branding is critical,” Malone said. Customers either know your address or you lose the sale. They’ll search for “jeans” not “Gap.”

Other KIS customers rent kiosks for a trade show to display their Web sites. Standard kiosks also are used as tourism information kiosks, Intranet terminals on a factory floor or interactive point-of-purchase display.

McDonald’s customers can punch in their own orders from a kiosk. Self service reduces staffing requirements and actually increases accuracy and order size, plus it’s a huge bonus for locations where some customers speak another language. Arby’s found customers spent $4 more per order on average when they placed their own orders.

KIS even has a proposal on a “Jimmy Hendrix” kiosk, but Malone did not want to disclose details.

“There are definitely orders we do not accept,” he said. “In this business, we’ve seen prototypes fail, and we’ve seen a lot of people try the same thing and fail.”

Sometimes it’s all in the timing.

KIS designed a Catalog Shopping Kiosk for Little Tikes for large discount retailers, like Walmart. Customers can order and pay for large toys or swing sets, minimizing on-site inventory.

“When we first tried that, the software cost millions of dollars,” Malone said. “Today, it’s just a question of putting up your Web site.”

BROOMFIELD — “May I help you?” is increasingly being replaced by Broomfield-based KIS-Kiosk, manufacturer of self-service technology terminals. Soon, we’ll be using the machines to order food at McDonald’s, buy subway tokens in San Francisco or ship a swing set home.

Forget the kiosks for concert posters on the Pearl Street Mall and think electronic kiosks — like ATMs, the concept that revolutionized self-service terminals.

“Before ATMs, we used people to do the same service at a much higher cost,´ said Kiosk Information Systems (KIS) President Rick Malone. “ATMs have fundamentally changed the way the banking industry operates.”

Initially, banks…

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