Case Studies

Businesses Deploy New Wave of Touch-Screen Kiosks

The latest kiosks mimic many of the touch-screen features of today’s smartphones and tablets.
This story appears in the Summer 2012 issue of BizTech Magazine.
Businesses Deploy New Wave of Touch-Screen Kiosks
Touch-screen kiosks help Frank Elliott and the staff at Bonsai Bar & Lounge in Chicago ring up customers faster.
Credit: Todd Winters

Chicago-area bar and restaurant owner Frank Elliott sees the adage “time is money” at work every day. The faster his bartenders and servers ring up drinks and food, the more he sells. It’s as simple as that.

So Elliott uses three Elo ­TouchSystems touch-screen kiosks in Bonsai Bar & Lounge, a new venture slated for Chicago’s north side. The all-in-one Elo B-series kiosks stationed behind the bar let employees ring up drinks and food quickly and efficiently while offering a host of other services. The Elo units also clock employees in and out, act as cash registers, generate sales reports and ring up gift cards.

The 15-inch screens on the devices are large enough to easily accomplish all these tasks — an advantage Elliott appreciates. When he first took over his flagship operation, Oak Park’s upscale Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge, he recalls working with 10-inch screens that displayed multiple pages of food and drink menus in hard-to-read fonts.

Now, he says, “I can have the majority of the menu on one screen, and not have multiple screens. You can get the order in much faster.”

Touching Up Kiosks

Elliott’s selection of the Elo for Bonsai Bar reflects more than savvy lounge service. It represents a rise in the popularity of touch-screen kiosks in all types of businesses. Fueled by wireless communications and the prevalence of mobile touch-screen technology on smartphones and tablet computers, kiosks have taken off in the past few years.

Touch screens make kiosks faster and easier to use, says Leslie Hand, IDC’s research director for retail insights. And while that’s been true for a while, the mobile communications boom of the past several years has made typing on a screen ­instead of a keypad more familiar to users.

“Because we’re in the iPad era, almost everyone is comfortable with a touch screen,” says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. “They’re just showing up everywhere and anywhere.”

Chris Gilder, CEO of Meridian Zero Degrees, a North Carolina–based kiosk and self-service device manufacturer, says public acceptance of touch-screen kiosks has expanded as consumers become increasingly connected. For example, projected capacitive touch technology — a grid system etched into a sheet of glass that tracks touches by detecting changes in the device’s electrostatic field — lets kiosks expand on smartphone capabilities such as multitouch sensing. Kiosk users can now swipe or pinch and zoom, just as they do on their phones, and that increases their comfort level, Gilder explains.

Building Relationships

The growing familiarity with touch-screen technology means kiosks may show up where you least expect them. At the Pacific EyeClinic in Beaverton, Ore., one of six clinics run by the Pacific University College of Optometry, a kiosk encourages patient involvement in their vision care.

The Beaverton clinic uses a Planar Systems 22-inch multi­touch screen monitor mounted on the wall of its waiting area, lodged between hundreds of eyeglass frames. Its projected capacitive multi­touch screen is designed for long life and lots of touches.

Patients use the kiosk to electronically browse through the selection of eyewear while waiting for their appointment, during which time they can check out frame shapes, colors and specialty offerings with the touch of a finger.

What is the main use for touch-screen technology at your business?

8% Control of automation systems
5% Self-service
1% Employee training
6% Point-of-sale transactions
5% Public information
75% Do not use

SOURCE: CDW poll of 361 BizTech readers

This touch-screen window-shopping often prepares patients to tell the clinic precisely what they want once they’ve seen an optometrist, says Kenneth Eakland, the college’s associate dean for clinical programs. Patients become familiar with their various choices and are active in their care from the moment their fingers touch the waiting room screen.

The clinic also has two Planar 19-inch multi­touch monitors, which let clinic employees face patients directly instead of turning their shoulders to face the keyboard while completing paperwork and submitting orders. It’s a small change, ­Eakland notes, but it’s important.

Altogether, the clinic’s touch-screen technology supports the type of patient relationships that build trust and encourage positive outcomes. “The patient’s experience is dramatically better, I think,” Eakland says.

Embracing the Big Screen

Motorists have given a thumbs up to the initial rollout of new electronic concierge kiosk systems in Connecticut’s highway service plazas.

Project Service, operator of the plazas, has installed HP 42-inch widescreen kiosks in four of the state’s 23 service plazas, says Wayland Benbow, the organization’s marketing director. The HP kiosk uses infrared technology that pairs an array of light-emitting diodes with photo sensors to create a durable touch screen with a high-quality view.

As many as 15,000 visitors used the kiosks during the Milford, Conn., plaza’s first month of operation, Benbow says. It’s no wonder. The kiosks completely replace the brochure racks that used to clutter the service plazas. Now, visitors and residents navigate the kiosk to find where to stay or eat and what to do during their visit. They can also check the weather or look up local business services and transportation.

Benbow now plans to install the kiosks in all of Connecticut’s service plazas. “For all intents and purposes, it’s a 5-foot iPad,” he says. “Everybody’s embracing it.”

Sign up for our e-newsletter


Heartbleed: What Should Your... |
One of the biggest security vulnerabilities has almost every user and every industry...
Why Businesses Need a Next-G... |
Devices investigate patterns that could indicate malicious activity.
Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....


The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Businesses Must Step Careful... |
Slow and steady wins the race as businesses migrate IT operations to service providers,...
Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...


Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Mobility: A Foundational Pie... |
Other technologies rely on mobile computing, which has the power to change lives, Lextech...
Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.

Hardware & Software

Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....
New Challenges in Software M... |
IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.