A kiosk has a few meanings, so simply asking what is a kiosk? May not get you exactly what you are looking for. So what I’m going to do, is answer on every front I’m aware of.
First of all, there is the more classic mall kiosk. Those are open ended small vendor shops. They’re used generally for selling very specific products at very specific places. It was a unique kind of shop because they are built of unique area design. Like if you have a large space then you can stick one in the middle.
Ok, so I’m not sure you were looking for any information on that, which was by the way made in 1976, but, next is the more common information kiosk. These kiosks were made more to focus on informing people in an area. They are similar to the vendors in the sense that they are a mostly enclosed small space that has someone in the middle operating.
These kiosks you’ll find at a touristy area or an amusement park or maybe an airport to help people navigate the landscape and find what they are looking for. They also may provide interesting information about the place itself.
Both the mall kiosk and information share at least one component: that being it is a small space that when people want something they can come over and get it from there.
So when we would ask about a kiosk meaning something, it would probably fall something in that kiosk definition.
Summer House Kiosk?
I have checked on Merriam Dictionary and apparently, a kiosk can also mean an open pavilion or summer house… not really sure what to do with that one. Also, I have never heard anyone speak about it like that before.
Then we are brought to the most modern answer to what is a kiosk. An interactive kiosk. A touchscreen kiosk. A digital poster. A self service kiosk. All these terms are what people are asking about.
Well, that’s the thing about the modern definition of a kiosk, it’s become very diverse in its functionality. Even all those terms – while they are referring to a similar device – are speaking about different functions.
Funny enough the first electronic kiosk was made in 1977 by a man with the name Murray Lappe. He was a pre-med student at the University of Illinois. It was made to inform the students on campus about news in the University. So the information kiosk was what drove the beginnings of the modern definition.
Versatility of a Touch Kiosk
The touch kiosk that we use incorporates all kiosks that predate it. It has a few different versions. There’s the tall standing kiosk, the touch table kiosk, the double sided kiosk, the outdoor kiosk. And honestly more, they’re creating new designs all the time.
This creation has manifested into industries it originally had no business in. The kiosk is now used in airports, restaurants, events, parties, retail stores, buildings, and of course, malls. Since kiosk software has become effective for more utilities, new industries have found reason to invest in some.
The word kiosk now has taken on a whole new meaning and it’s a broader definition. It entails perhaps, a photo booth, or a virtual directory, or simply large digital signage on a dynamic custom display screen. And at the rate kiosks are being bought and expanded upon, the word will only continue to find new areas of meaning to infiltrate.
Kiosks are Similar to Phones
Much like the phone. We all used to know what a phone meant. It was the device you called people on, done. Now, well, what can’t you use it for? It’s the instant-information-device, or the camera, or the compass, or the GPS. The functionality of the phone has created an entirely new relationship to how we speak about it and what we mean when we use the word phone.
The same will happen with the kiosk, it’s also an open-ended source, that’s potential will be brought out more and more as the market invests more into it.
What is a kiosk?
So to answer what is a kiosk? This will have to do, but if you ask in a few years, who knows what it will mean.