July 24, 2005

USB and Self-service Kiosks and Kiosk Terminals

It used to be give me a COM port and a Parallel Port and we'll have a self-service kiosk for you. Not anymore...

Commentary on Self-Service Kiosk Technology:

The decline of legacy ports like good old COM1 and RS232/LPT1 have seen their day, and seen it pass.

Nowadays its less a matter of COM1 than rather its 2.0 USB as opposed to 1.1 USB. Kiosks have more and more devices available for input and gathering information and given the finite number of serial ports it has just been a matter of time before almost all the devices are USB.

That has problematic issues with some versions of Windows be they W2K or XP. Managing these devices (and sometime a variable amount) raises simple requirements that can result in complex issues.

We now have credit card readers that are USB that for purposes of bi-directional communication present themselves as virtual com-ports. Good for security, not so good for application programmers.

More modern iterations of past systems such as the IBM Anyplace do not have support for parallel ports opting instead for just USB. Technically they are to be congratulated in one sense. In another its "dang, another brand new world..." platform. The usual suspects are not in the mix.

Consider a digital media system where given Compact Flash and Memory Sticks and 7 other formats, the mappings for the USB drives now takes on new significance.

And what about USB and bi-directional communications? Isn't that a new pathway for hackers to exploit? We never used to download user files and now we are making transfers a part of the paid process.

It has always been a nice option to use a HID driver for credit card reader, but doesn't that just read it as keyboard input (and thus expose it to illegitimate capture)?

How fast is that Bluetooth transfer, and how much faster will it be with the new Bluetooth specification to be approved/implemented?

How secure?

How well does the O/S handle USB devices and under what conditions?

My touchscreen used to be RS232. Linux likes that, but, everybody else likes USB.

Do I cover OPOS and/or JavaPOS or what? What requirement do I have driving my business. Business is requirements driven after all.

Does my cash acceptor or printer need to be Wi-Fi enabled or at least Ethernet enabled. How far has the network dug into the infrastructure?

These are all valid questions and ones that will impact kiosk deployment.

More to come in next installment on self-service kiosk technology.

Commentary by Craig Keefner, applications engineer for Kiosk Information Systems

Posted by keefner at July 24, 2005 03:19 AM