Kiosk Series: Tablets Point The Way

This is a post in a series exploring the use of Android tablets and the iPad as kiosks. The kick-off post can be found here.

Let’s say you’re meeting with some people in a hotel conference room. You step into the lobby with 8 minutes to spare. “Great,” you think, “I’ve made it to the hotel with a little time to spare, but now I need to find out which room the meeting is in.” You look around the lobby and notice a sign that lists the meetings happening that day, and what rooms they’re in. Your meeting is in the Sierra room. Now you just need to know where that room is, and you’ll be on your way. Nearby there’s a chart of the hotel floor plan that helps you get your bearings. Off you go.

Signs are there to inform and entertain, to show people the way and what’s going on around them. They’ve been doing that job well for a very long time, but there’s room for improvement.

Physical wayfinding signs look great, but they’re expensive, and no matter how fast a shop can get work done, it still adds extra lead time. Once the signs are built, that’s it. If you want to say something else, you have to build some new signs. If you host a one-time event, you have to build all of your signage, then throw it all away. You don’t have the luxury of changing your mind.

Tablets open the way for many more people to have affordable, responsive signage solutions. Consider these use cases:

  • Mini-conferences
  • Off-site meetings
  • Trade show booth
  • Permanent lobby sign
  • Greeting sign at a customer briefing center
  • Retail showroom
  • Social gatherings

Tablet signage is the great equalizer — now many different kinds of teams can build and distribute their own content without relying on a standing marketing team. In any situation where you need to communicate with people, you can put a tablet to work.

Besides being an affordable commodity, tablets also offer a built-in advantage in that they allow for interactive signage, something traditional signs just can’t do at all. Tablets kiosks offer a responsive, and intuitive way to engage people interactively.

Let’s go back to our scenario of the meeting participant in the lobby of a hotel. With an interactive sign, he can scan a list of meetings, and see that his group is meeting in the Sierra room. Now, instead of looking around for a map, he just taps on his meeting, and sees a map with the room of interest highlighted. Our participant saves time and avoids frustration.

What content can you put on your sign? Consider these three options:

  1. Web content. Just point your sign to a URL. HTML5 provides a rich set of presentation and interaction options, so why not put it to work on a sign? If you have Web designers, you automatically have sign designers.
  2. A series of images. Signs entertain as well as inform, and the right choice of images can be a great option.
  3. Videos. Do you have a great video you’d like people to see? Put it on a tablet where everyone can see it.

There’s one more thing to consider. Sure, tablets offer a great way to develop sign content and display it, but if you want a sign that’s bigger than 10 inches from corner to corner? When you want a big sign, combine a large, flat screen with a tablet. The tablet handles the Web content, images, or video, and the large screen makes it easy to see. This approach requires these items: a tablet, some velcro strips, an HDMI connector, and a large, flat screen. Attach the tablet to the back of the flat screen, and plug it in to the screen’s HDMI connector. With commodity parts you now have an electronic signage solution that’s superior to any high-end solution the current sign industry has to offer. You can build the whole solution for under $1,500 dollars, and use it over and over again.

Next time you put together any sort of event, put tablets to work to improve your guests’ experience. There’s never been such an affordable, flexible, and reusable option for signage.

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About the Author: Shay Thomson