Next-gen charging kiosks juicing up with digital signage

Baltimore, Md.-based NV3 Technologies displayed at this month’s KioskCom samples of its newest mobile device-charging kiosks. The units, like those of the company’s competitors, offer quick-charging for a range of phones and other portable devices.

But the company’s NTC line of kiosks signals a shift in the charging kiosk business model. By incorporating touchscreens, digital signage and Internet connectivity, the kiosks are expanding the range of applications — and potential revenue sources — for this type of self-service kiosk.

NV3 managing partner Scott Calhoun explains that the company started out with a simple, service-driven model. Customers would plug in their phones and receive a 15-minute quick charge for a fee. When the company began manufacturing its own kiosks to improve ROI, he says it discovered a different, more flexible business model.

“The charger is really drawing the customer in and holding them there for 15 minutes,” he said.

Therein lies what NV3 sees as the future for device-charging kiosks. Customers with phones connected to a kiosk for several minutes offer a semi-captive audience for deployer messages.

And the additions to NV3’s product line, such as touchscreens and digital signage, create a number of possibilities for clients to connect with customers and employees.

Calhoun and managing partner Ryan Doak say the possible uses for this deployment model are extremely diverse. A hospital could equip a charger with a patient-information touchscreen, helping patients’ families stay in contact and informed during emergencies. An airline could deploy digital-signage-equipped kiosks in its employee lounges, saving the headache of disseminating paper- or e-mail-based HR information on a global scale.

“Once we were putting everything together, we found out it wasn’t to hard to customize [the kiosk] depending on what the customer needs it to do,” Calhoun said.

In a recent deployment, NV3 installed a series of mall-based kiosks to present interactive information from Toyota. Customers at the kiosks encounter digital signage about the brand, and a touchscreen interface that allows them to contact Toyota and purchase products online. With customers held at the kiosks while their phones charge, Toyota is able to present deeper, more complex messages, and can conduct more sophisticated transactions than might be possible at a kiosk with nothing there to hold the client in place.

Calhoun says a series of upgrades will soon add more capability to the charging kiosks. The company is retrofitting charging hardware so that it can track the types of phones charged, the number of times a user returns to the kiosk and other demographic information that could paint a very precise market picture for phone manufacturers, advertisers and kiosk deployers.

How this new tracking information will affect future device-charging kiosk deployments remains to be seen — the technology is only just beginning to come online. But the expansion in possibilities offered by digital signage, interactive features and enhanced connectivity show that the once-simple device-charging kiosk is becoming a powerful, versatile tool in deployers’ arsenals.

Matt Cunningham is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com. To comment on this story, send comments to [email protected]igitalsignagetoday.com.

Filed under: NV3 News
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