Businesses are moving towards kiosks to provide an improved service. A kiosk is a small, stand-alone booth typically placed in high-traffic areas for business purposes. Kiosks can be used a to sell retail products and services, provides information and applications on education, commerce, entertainment, and and more. Kiosks are not always supervised by humans. Some, in fact, are electronic, providing consumers with a self-service-style experience. Because of their small, temporary natures, kiosks can be low-cost marketing strategies. Malls and other lessors may charge a smaller amount of rent to kiosk owners who might not need or afford a larger retail space. Kiosks can be a great way for new, emerging entrepreneurs to give their businesses a kickstart without sacrificing on cost.


In the 1960s there were a few kiosks installed in the United States that allowed users to perform certain financial transactions. However, none of the kiosks lasted long due to the disinterest and distrust of the locals. The first cash machine was installed in London in 1967, but it wasn’t until 1972 that the first automated teller machine (ATM), as we know it today, was put into use. It was this ATM that first allowed variable amounts to be withdrawn and money to be deducted from the user’s account directly.



The first interactive kiosk was developed in 1977 by Murray Lappe. “The Plato Hotline” was used for informational purposes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During the 1980s, the interactive voice response unit (IVR) expanded as consumers demanded innovative self-service technology. IVR allowed companies to provide customer service at a low cost and provided consumers with a more convenient solution.  

Types of Kiosks

Kiosks vary based on the nature of the business and whether the owner intends to make it electronic or man it with individuals.


Food Service Kiosks

In an effort to streamline the process of taking food orders, some restaurants install self-service kiosks. Customers can follow interactive prompts to select their meal and customize their order. The kiosks usually accept credit or debit cards, eliminating the need for a human cashier. When restaurants use kiosks, the need for counter personnel is reduced, lowering payroll costs for the company.

Health Care Kiosks

The health care industry is also starting to implement kiosks as a method for accepting bill payments, checking in patients for appointments, and patient record keeping. At some kiosks, patients can even take their own blood pressure or perform other non-invasive tests, and then relay the results to their doctors. In some cases, medical kiosks also offer educational videos about medical conditions and their treatments.


Employment Kiosks

In addition to kiosks that sell retail products or services, some companies set up employment kiosks where job seekers can apply for work. This type of kiosk is especially common in chain stores such as Walmart. Employment kiosks provide a way to quickly identify promising candidates, who will often receive an interview on the spot.

Photo Kiosks

Although not as common as they once were, photo kiosks were popular in shopping centers in the 1980s and 1990s. For a small fee, people could pose in front of a camera lens that would take three to four photographs. Customers waited for a few moments while the booth developed and ejected the photos. Automatic photo kiosks also serve another purpose, allowing people to develop and print their own photographs from DVDs, portable hard drives, and memory sticks.



In 1970, IBM partnered with American Airlines and American Express to create and trial the world’s first self-service airline ticket vending kiosk. In the early seventies the University Product Code (UPC) was created, which allowed grocery items to be scanned instead of manually input into the register. The creation and widespread use of the UPC further advanced the abilities for self-service checkout kiosks.


In 1970, IBM partners with American Airlines and American Express to create the world’s first self-service airline ticket vending kiosk. This experimental device received high grades from the nearly 1500 people who used the machine during its initial test run, with 99% saying they would use it again.


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