Multimedia kiosks set to boom

Retail designers must sharpen up their act if they want to exploit the predicted boom in multimedia retail kiosks. Findings from a European Commission-backed trial show multimedia kiosks are set to take the high street by storm, despite earlier disappoint

Retail designers must sharpen up their act if they want to exploit the predicted boom in multimedia retail kiosks.

Findings from a European Commission-backed trial show multimedia kiosks are set to take the high street by storm, despite earlier disappointing pilot schemes by some high street retailers.

The Barclays Bank-led two-year project found consumers “increasingly willing” to use kiosks to obtain information, enter personal details, book appointments and buy goods and services. Interactive Media in Retail Group managing director James Roper claims: “The project was an outstanding success and proved beyond any doubt the power and potential of self-service kiosks.”

But designers have been slow on the uptake, according to Peter Matthews, managing director of Nucleus, which has worked on several multimedia projects. “The design industry has not embraced the technology as it could have. Clients are way ahead of consultancies in terms of IT.”

Patrick Dunn, project director at 1/2/1 Interactive Multimedia adds: “There’s no question it’s the next big thing. If you’re not into it you’re going to have to get into it.”

Key areas where kiosks have been used successfully include financial services and car sales, but designers “don’t always understand new media”, suggests Matthews. “It’s a matter of putting together multidisciplinary groups to work on a project basis.”

Ajaz Ahmed, director of new media design specialist AKQ, says consumers are interested in the concept of kiosks, but have to be convinced they will “deliver benefits above and beyond what normal shops offer”.

A report of the study, which included kiosks operated by Barclays, San Paolo Bank, MFI and Camden Motors will be published later this year. Olivetti supplied PCs and hardware while Tecnost Mael designed and manufactured the kiosks.

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