Interactive Kiosk Software: Overview
With 32 years in software development, ScienceSoft provides professional consulting on implementation of kiosk solutions.
The essence of kiosk software
Kiosk software is designed to provide specific customer service-related functionality via publicly accessed kiosk units or a kiosk system. Kiosk software aims to achieve high user satisfaction at reduced customer service costs by offering automated interaction that results in payment, order placement, photo printing, cash withdrawal or other service actions.
Digital kiosk software architecture varies depending on the kiosk purpose and functionality.
The key elements are a kiosk client application and controller software, which contains the business logic of the kiosk solution. Both software parts can run from one device with high processing power (a kiosk unit, a Mac computer, etc.) or reside in two closely located devices: a client app installed on any (usually portable) device and a controller on a standalone mini PC (Raspberry Pi, Intel NUC, etc.).
Kiosk software can either independently handle customer requests or securely communicate with the cloud server to process a request (e.g., banking kiosks). Communication with cloud is also necessary for kiosk software to upload activity reports or error logs to the cloud database and for kiosk administrators to perform maintenance via a cloud-based kiosk management software.
Key operational features
Information display and media playback
Advertising, informational or navigational audio-video content (core feature of digital signage kiosk software).
Touch screen input
On-screen keyboard input, interaction with on-screen UI elements, e-signatures.
Physical keyboard input
Processing of input data, use of basic control buttons (Ok, Cancel, Back).
Automatic onsite printing
Printing tickets and receipts to confirm service operations.
Kiosk-specific service features
Performing money transactions by reading a credit/debit card and processing payment (e.g., banking kiosk software for banks).
Money issuing, whether as bank account withdrawal or as change for a paid purchase (e.g., for kiosk software for banks).
Ordering a product from a given menu (e.g., for restaurant kiosk software).
E-queues, hotel booking, travel tickets.
Printing images provided by a user (e.g., for self-service kiosk software for photo printing).
Security and maintenance
Kiosk lockdown software
Limiting user interaction with a kiosk to predefined actions.
Restricted web browsing
Limiting available internet resources in internet kiosks.
User session reset
Automatic system status reset and erasing session history after each user session.
Sending user session records data and error logs to a cloud database, where it can be accessed by kiosk administrators.
Kiosk software health monitoring and updates deploying from a web administration panel.
Kiosk application + controller software
To power a client app or apps used by customers with functional logics; communication is local, established via cable connection or Bluetooth/Wi-Fi.
Kiosk software + cloud
To allow a kiosk system access to the main cloud server (to process operations in case of banking and payment software), enable communication with the cloud database (for log collection/analytics) and remote control of kiosk software by an administrator; established via Web APIs.
Kiosk software + peripheral hardware
Portable card readers, RFID band printers, etc.
To enable the use of portable devices in kiosk systems that function on consumer tablets/PCs. Integration established via specific drivers.
Kiosk software + Point of Sale (POS) software
To enable communication with main POS software, letting a customer place an order and send a payment; realized with the help of POS-specific APIs.
Lack of need for regular attendance is the key point of kiosks. Therefore, kiosk software should be sustainable and fail-proof, requiring minimum administrators’ involvement. Controller software should be designed to conduct basic self-checks and run automated troubleshooting that eliminates uncovered errors. In case of a serious error that has led to kiosk software failure, a backup system should immediately notify a maintenance team and provide error logs.
Functional growth and scalability
Enable agile and continuous functionality expansion for kiosk software to adapt to customers’ changing needs and provide relevant customer service. The ease and convenience of feature upgrades should be considered during kiosk software architecture design and programming.
Depending on the kiosk’s functional specifics and the region it is located in, kiosk software should comply with respective necessary regulations, for example, ADA, HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI.
To run a client kiosk app, you need the input/output device to be powered by an operating system. If you want to avoid developing a custom (usually Linux-based) kiosk OS, we recommend targeting existing operating systems. Client kiosk software for Windows, Android, or iOS can be installed on any consumer device with a respective OS.
- Available on Microsoft Surface tablets and all-in-one touchscreen-based PCs.
- Offers out-of-the-box Kiosk Mode in Windows 10.
- Kiosk Mode is limited to the apps published in Microsoft Store and Edge-based web browsing.
- Widest choice of compatible peripheral devices.
- Susceptible to malware.
Kiosk solutions that involve integrations with multiple peripheral devices.
Home version – $139, Pro version – $199,99.
- Open source OS.
- Wide choice of supported mobile devices.
- Rich view customization options.
- Most affordable device prices.
Large-scale kiosk solutions that imply a network of 50+ devices.
- Restricted to the use of iPads/iPhones only.
- iPads provide the best battery life of all other portable devices on the market.
- Extremely secure, little to no risk of malware.
- Offers out-of-the-box device control restrictions that simplify kiosk app lockdown.
Kiosk solutions that require enhanced security.
Included in the cost of an iPad/iPhone, isn’t distributed separately.
Why kiosk software is usually custom by definition
Off-the-shelf kiosk software offers can’t successfully cater to various types of kiosk systems that use different hardware, have different functionality packs, and require different integrations. Moreover, it’s extremely difficult to evolve and upgrade an out-of-the-box product, while growth is one of the key kiosk software success factors.
By choosing custom kiosk software, you get a tailored solution that is compatible with any hardware you want to use, allows easy evolution and functional updates, as well as meets your individual business requirements, thus satisfying customers’ needs and bringing high ROI.
ScienceSoft offers both consulting on and implementation of custom kiosk software.
Kiosk software consulting
- Full business case creation.
- Definition of custom kiosk software features.
- Costs and development schedule estimates.
- Kiosk system architecture design.
- Detailed plan of integrations (with cloud, hardware, POS, etc).
- Assistance with hardware choice.
- Interactive UX prototype as a PoC.
Custom kiosk software development
- Kiosk software consulting and development project planning.
- UX and UI design of client and web admin apps in full compliance with ADA and WCAG.
- Development and QA of a custom kiosk software solution (client app + controller software + kiosk management web app).
- Deployment and integration with cloud, peripheral devices, POS, etc.
- Continuous kiosk software support and evolution.
ScienceSoft is a global IT consultancy and software development vendor with 32-year experience headquartered in McKinney, Texas, US. We develop tailored kiosk software solutions to help businesses enhance customer acquisition and satisfaction while optimizing customer service efforts and costs.