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Interactive Kiosk Experience Trends 2: Bolder Objectives

Posted; July 9, 2021

COVID-19 made touchless technology a key trend in interactive retail kiosks. But the value of touchless technology is much broader than hygiene. In the second of our two-part series, Saurabh Gupta, Director of Product, explores how touchless technology converges with 5G and IoT. Together, they’re enabling bolder objectives for interactive kiosk installations.

This time round, I’m exploring how technology innovations (ultra-fast 5G connectivity, IoT technologies such as RFID tags, and touchless technology) are converging to enable bolder objectives for interactive retail kiosks and digital out-of-home advertising.

No longer purely functional, interactive retail kiosks are now important brand touchpoints in connected and omnichannel experiences.

But while innovation is enabling bolder objectives, at the same time the financial impact of the pandemic means companies are also looking to extract value from existing installations.

“I think people are still learning about and understanding all that digital signage can do. It's not a novelty anymore, but rather a dynamic medium for information that creates an entertaining, immersive experience. Digital signage used to be just airplay or DOOH focused, stopping at single screens or single interactive kiosks. Now, users are … driving more adventurous objectives.”
Tomer Mann - 22Miles

More than just a transaction: Interactive retail kiosks as brand touchpoints

There will always be a place for purely functional self-serve kiosks – in a highly time-pressured situation such as buying a train ticket, for example.

But in use-cases such as retail, restaurants, wayfinding, hotel check-in, and workplaces, interactive kiosks work harder. They still need to meet user needs for quick transactions. However, they’re also brand touchpoints and an interactive canvas for real-time information updates, personalised content and upselling opportunities.

“The kiosk screens can display ads when idle and the body can be used to convey offers and other brand impressions,” explains kiosk software vendor Hexnode. “With high competition in the market, we often see the marketing efforts make a bigger difference than the actual product.”

Better connectivity and integration with physical products via IoT expand the capabilities of what interactive retail kiosks can do. And, rather than seeking to complete transactions with as little contact as possible, touchless technology gives post-pandemic consumers the confidence to explore these additional capabilities.

But touchless technology does more than just create brand trust – it also creates brand halos.

In a 2020 survey of over 500 consumers, people expressed a preference for touchless gesture control in interactive retail kiosks not only because of hygiene. They also perceived the technology to be “futuristic”, and “really cool modern technology”.

This supports the findings of a pre-pandemic study that showed 91% of people found touchless interactivity engaging, 85% thought it was unique, and 82% thought it was modern/cutting edge. Touchless technology makes interactive retail kiosks not only safe, but also memorable, engaging, and unique. 

Find out more about Ultraleap's touchless solutions

More than just a billboard: Digital out-of-home goes interactive

As smaller screens move beyond purely functional interaction, larger screens are converging from the other direction.

For a long time, digital out-of-home advertising was limited to one-way broadcasts. But with 5G lowering the costs of content delivery, more ambitious content becomes possible. With constraints on bandwidth relaxing, even 3D holographic displays (such as Looking Glass), are within the realms of possibility.

Experiential and immersive campaigns, contextual content and personalized ads are turning digital out-of-home interactive.

Campaigns with dynamic, multi-sensory, two-way connections to consumers are proven to outperform static ads. Our large-scale study in a top-tier multiplex cinema showed that touchless interactive out-of-home screens were more addressable, more actionable, and more attributable. 

Extracting value from existing interactive kiosk installations

But while innovation is enabling bolder objectives, at the same time post-pandemic companies are looking to extract value from existing installations. This means looking for innovations that can be installed easily and add value to existing infrastructure.

Touchless technologies such as voice, gesture control and mobile apps are mature and readily available. This makes them attractive innovations for budget-conscious network operators.

For example, Cortina Productions used our TouchFree software to retrofit existing touch screen kiosks in museums. The solution meant that they were able to move quickly to support their museum clients, without significant investment in new kiosk infrastructure.

"The speed at which we’ve been able to implement the touchless software – days as opposed to months – means we can react to visitor needs and provide a variety of interactive options to help people feel comfortable in a museum setting again.”
Jim Cortina – Principal - Cortina Productions
Post-pandemic, budgets are tight. Network operators are looking for innovations that enable them to extract value from existing interactive retail kiosk installations.

Implementing touchless technology into interactive kiosks

Touchless technologies may be mature, but successful implementation in interactive retail kiosks or digital out-of-home advertising requires a user-centred understanding of the unique context and challenges of developing public interfaces.

At Ultraleap, we’ve been working over the last year to adapt our hand tracking technology – previously optimized for VR – into a truly bespoke solution for interactive kiosks. Among other things, this includes:

An effective strategy for engaging and educating new users is essential to the success of touchless kiosks. Ultraleap’s looping “Call to Interact” instructional animations for interactive kiosks are based on robust user research and successfully onboard users in a matter of seconds.

With multiple pilots and commercial installations launching in 2021, we're excited to see how touchless technology will play with other trends in interactive kiosk experience – to evolve self-serve kiosks and digital out-of-home to the next level.

Saurabh Gupta leads Product and Commercial Strategy for the out-of-home sector for Ultraleap.

Read the first blog in this series to find out about how touchless technology plays into the rise of customer experience as a key battleground and the reinvention of bricks-and-mortar retail.

Lady interacting with a touchless interactive kiosk

Explore Ultraleap’s gesture control solutions

Our robust camera modules, award-winning TouchFree application and detailed installation and design guidance make integrating gesture control into interactive kiosks easy.