Because outdoor kiosks face harsher conditions than indoor kiosks, they typically require certain components that make them better suited for an outdoor environment. These requirements, however, can add to the bottom line, depending on how many modifications are needed.
When it comes to outdoor kiosks, the higher price tag generally comes down to three things: more robust enclosures, heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, and outdoor-rated touchscreens.
An outdoor kiosk’s enclosure is the first line of defense against erosion and rust, exposure to the elements, and security risks, so determining the right material is key.
Stainless steel is usually recommended for outdoor kiosk enclosures but selecting this option can increase the overall cost of the kiosk. Powder coating is a more economical option with the same heavy-duty protection. Not only does powder coating protect from rust and slow erosion, but the coating itself strengthens the metal underneath by creating a hard shell over it.
Because outdoor kiosks also require weatherproofing to protect the internal components, the expense of gaskets and compression locks are also a factor. It’s important not to cut these features to save money, though, as they provide crucial benefits to extend an outdoor kiosk’s lifespan.
While gasketing is essential to keep out water, it protects against more than just that. It also prevents small particles like dirt or sand from making their way into the kiosk’s inner workings and disrupting any electrical elements.
Gaskets can be made of a variety of materials, such as rubber, cork, fiber, or metal. The right type will be determined by the kiosk’s environment.
Compression locks are another important consideration for outdoor kiosks. Not only do the locks use gasketing materials to seal the machine when the lock is engaged, they also increase security because they stand up better to tampering and forced entry attempts.
Outdoor kiosks are more susceptible to foul play, making increased security a must. This is particularly critical for kiosks that hold cash or even simply appear to hold cash. While sometimes a sticker that states, “This kiosk does not have cash inside,” is enough to deter attempts at crime, more often, greater security measures are necessary. This is where compression locks come in.
These heavier locks are essential for outdoor enclosures. The locks have a higher “ultimate load” than the standard locks used for indoor kiosks, meaning the amount of force applied to the lock before it fails must be greater than that of the average lock.
Along with heavy duty locks, avoiding “pry points” on outdoor kiosks is also important for security. A “pry point” refers to any place on the enclosure, particularly around the door, that could be exploited for its vulnerability. Doors and exterior panels on outdoor kiosks need to be sturdy enough to prevent a pry bar from being inserted into a gap to force the enclosure open.
While more robust materials, gasketing, and compression locks all add to the cost of outdoor kiosks, having an enclosure that withstands the threats of its environment is key to a successful deployment.
Keeping a kiosk’s inside temperature steady becomes more difficult when the kiosk is located outside versus in an indoor, temperature-controlled environment. To do so requires an HVAC system to control internal temperatures, especially in locations with extreme heat and cold or kiosks that contain electronics with high heat output. This is most often the case with large kiosk enclosures.
Smaller outdoor kiosks can sometimes get away with not employing an HVAC system, and instead utilize small enclosure heating and cooling kits that consist of a small heater, muffin fans, and a thermostat.
Small enclosure heating and cooling kits are much more economically friendly than HVAC systems but lack the power and effectiveness that would be necessary for larger kiosks.
Keep in mind that, just like with the larger kiosks, placement will also play a role. Heating and cooling kits are meant for fair weather locations and should not be used in kiosks that are in direct sunlight or situations where electronic components give off high levels of heat.
More times than not, an HVAC system is going to be the preferred option. While it’s true that HVAC systems do drive up the overall outdoor kiosk price, they are generally recommended for best performance.
Outdoor touchscreens are more than just waterproofed indoor touchscreens. In fact, there are quite a few factors that make these touchscreens different than a normal monitor.
Weatherproofing is perhaps the most obvious requirement for these outdoor kiosks. But what does this mean?
The screens themselves need to resist water penetration, and the encasements should use gasketing material behind the bezel to prevent water and other particles from penetrating the kiosk enclosure. The kiosk needs to have at least an IP65 rating, which refers to a rating system that measures protection levels against outside materials, such as water or dirt. But there’s more to outdoor touchscreens than simple waterproofing.
When it comes to readability, high-brightness LCD displays are essential. This brightness is measured in NITs, which is simply how much light the screen sends out. A standard laptop or smartphone has a brightness rating of around 250 NIT to 300 NIT. The LCD Display on an outdoor touchscreen is typically closer to 1000 NIT or 1200 NIT, sometimes even higher. In short, this means the screen is easier to read in sunlight.
It is possible to add an optical bond to the outdoor touchscreen, too. This comes at an additional cost but offers a premium viewing experience for users. Resin is used in between the touch panel and the LCD panel, which removes the gap between the two, allowing for the best visibility in an outdoor environment.
Glare is another factor that affects readability, particularly when a kiosk is placed somewhere where it is likely to reflect sunlight. The glass of outdoor touchscreens have an anti-glare or anti-reflective coating to help reduce the reflection and increase visibility for the user.
In addition, these screens are also equipped with UV reflective film. A standard touchscreen, when placed in direct sunlight, would blackout due to UV rays, even in cool temperatures. By adding this film to the inside of the touchscreen, the UV rays are reflected out, preventing the monitor from malfunctioning.
Touchscreens can be sensitive, depending on the type of touch they’re meant to register. For instance, the screens on cell phones or tablets use what is called “Capacitive Touch.” This type of screen is quite responsive, which is generally a good thing. However, outdoor kiosks are exposed to the elements, and something as small as a raindrop can activate the touchscreen and disrupt the user experience.
Projected Capacitive Touch Screens (PCAP) provide an extra layer between the outer screen and the inner workings and will react only to a user’s fingertip instead of elements like water. This makes it a better choice for outdoor kiosks.
While specialty touchscreens add to an outdoor kiosk’s price, forgoing an outdoor-rated screen will end up costing much more in the end with a poor user experience or, worse, a broken kiosk.
The increased cost of an outdoor kiosk comes from the need for studier enclosures, the addition of heating and cooling systems, and the use of touchscreens designed to withstand the elements.
While a higher price tag can often be hard to swallow, it’s important to remember these adjustments keep the kiosk fully operational. Placing an indoor kiosk outside may be tempting, but it runs the risk of breaking and accruing bills for necessary repairs or replacements. As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right.