The Difference Between Digital Sign Kiosks and Interactive Kiosks

4 minutes
Cheryl Lesniak

The Difference Between Digital Sign Kiosks and Interactive Kiosks

4 minutes
Cheryl Lesniak


In the world of self-service technology, a digital sign kiosk and an interactive kiosk appear to be interchangeable. However, while both have electronic screens that share data, the two terms represent separate types of kiosks. In this article, we explain how they are different and the use case for each.

Digital Sign Kiosks

Digital signage has one main purpose: to inform. Digital sign kiosks display information for users to consume without requiring or encouraging direct contact.

For instance, the display menus behind many quick service restaurant counters are consider digital signs. These are informational-only and not meant to be interacted with by customers. Because of this, digital signs can get away with using non-touchscreens. This lowers the cost considerably, making digital signage a more budget-friendly choice than interactive kiosks.

Other examples of digital signage include business signs, billboards, digital banners at stadiums, and arrival and departure announcement boards at airports and other travel hubs. All of these serve the purpose of providing information without the need for direct interaction.

Interactive Kiosks

While capable of providing information, interactive kiosks go a step further, encouraging a two-way exchange. Interactive kiosks are meant to engage users. And although they do come with a larger price tag, touchscreens are what allow for this engagement.

In the example of quick service restaurants, many have both digital signage as well as interactive kiosks. The digital kiosks are placed in customer-friendly areas and make use of touchscreen technology. Thanks to this technology, patrons can easily scroll through the menu, click on items for more information, customize and place orders, and pay.

Interactive kiosks are not limited to QSR locations, nor are they limited to only ordering capabilities. They can be used in grocery stores, parking garages, car washes, and more, providing a variety of services, such as ticketing, check-in, payment, etc.

Can a Digital Sign Kiosk Be Interactive and Can an Interactive Kiosk Serve as Digital Signage?

In short, the answer is ‘yes’ to both questions. But then, if a digital sign kiosk can sometimes be interactive and an interactive kiosk can sometimes act as digital signage, where is the line drawn between the two?

For the most part, it comes down to technology and, thus, what the kiosks are capable of doing. It’s the two-way informational swap that make interactive kiosks different than simple digital signage.

A digital sign kiosk can provide a QR code that someone can then scan with a phone and use, which could be considered interactive. That being said, there are some technicalities that prevent this form of digital signage from falling under the category of interactive kiosks.

It can be easy to muddy the waters with semantics, but it’s important to understand the term “interactive” within the context of these kiosks. In order for a kiosk to be interactive, there must be the ability for two-way communication, usually involving the use of touchscreens.

In this case, a secondary device (a phone) is required to move forward with the interaction. The digital sign itself cannot do more than display the information, so two-way communication is not possible.

Now, consider an interactive kiosk with a screensaver that displays information on a touch screen, much like a digital sign. The kiosk is serving as digital signage, however, it retains the ability to serve as an interactive device, since it remains capable of two-way informational exchanges.

In some instances, an interactive kiosk can deploy hybrid technology, integrating separate touchscreen and non-touchscreen options. The non-touchscreen acts as a digital sign, while the other screen allows for user interaction.

In summary, a touchscreen has interactive capabilities but can also be used as simple signage. A non-touchscreen is incapable of direct user interaction, meaning that it is limited to one-way communication, however, it is a much more affordable option.

Conclusion

When deciding between a digital sign kiosk and an interactive kiosk, it’s important to consider your specific criteria. What do you need your kiosk to do? Does it require two-way communication, or would one-way suffice? What does your budget allow?

Understanding the uniqueness of digital sign kiosks and interactive kiosks, as well as their specific purposes, is going to help in deciding which option will be the right fit.

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