Do smartphones make kiosks obsolete? No - and here’s why.

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Is a kiosk a giant smartphone, or is a smartphone a tiny kiosk? The answer is, they’re a little of both. The two technologies deliver different and complimentary benefits to citizens and customers, and greater messaging capabilities to the cities, campuses, and convention centers who choose to deploy them. The fact is, both methods of engagement continue to thrive and are developing into an integral part of a successful engagement strategy.

“Users should be able to find what they’re looking for within two to three clicks,” says Spenser Brouwer, Technical Program Manager, CIVIQ Smartscapes. This in contrast to fishing through a handbag for your smartphone, punching in a passcode (or hoping your face is recognized), then navigating through an endless list of apps that you’ve been meaning to try, but more likely waiting to delete.

The perils of using your smartphone while walking is old news. According to a study which appeared in Accident Analysis & Prevention, “In 2004 an estimated 559 people had, in one scenario, whacked themselves hard enough on a telephone pole to need emergency room treatment. By 2010 the number of walkers who had to finish that last text in the ER had likely topped 1,500.” 8 years later, there’s still incidents of near misses whilst texting and walking. A kiosk offers a much needed break from our smartphones.

On experiencing the CIVIQ Waypoint, Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, KY, commented that “People are looking at their phones all the time, but they’re not customized to a city. So when you roll up to this, especially with the amount of bourbon that’s in the tourists we have these days, they’re going to know how to get around the city. So tools like this I think are fantastic.”

Apple CEO Tim Cooke is the first to admit that he and many others are addicted to their iPhones, and the company has even developed an addiction tool to help us limit screen time. For people on the go, kiosks also reduce this unnecessary, and possibly risky screen time. “We want quick interactions,” says Brouwer. A strategically placed Waypoint can get us on the right path in a matter of seconds because it is purpose driven, as opposed to being a den of notifications and distractions. Critical information can be transferred to your smartphone for later use if you so choose.

Advancements in the accessibility features of large format kiosks can also make this channel of engagement preferable to tiny hard-to-read smartphone screens. The CIVIQ Waypoint screen employs a high contrast, vivid color pallet making it very easy to read. And the entire screen can be lowered for optimal viewing from any angle.       

While the smartphone revolution has crept into every corner of human behavior, it has by no means replaced our desire and appreciation for other forms of engagement. Tech writer Phil Goldstein points to research from the firm Stratistics MRC: “In October 2015 report the global interactive kiosk market amounted to $1.2 billion in 2014, with the market expected to grow by nearly 15 percent per year to reach $2.88 billion by 2022.” This growth will be paralleled by the growth of mobile apps and smart devices as the two technologies work alongside each other for the optimal connected experience.

Watch: A Conversation with Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville, KY

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