Question of the Day
06/13/01 : Steve Hensley of KAL responds.
Why do we need standards in the kiosk industry?
What is the primary cause of the infamous "out of service" screen too
often displayed on a kiosk unit? Is it the use of inexpensive, or
incompatible, hardware components? Is it poor wiring or ventilation? Or,
are solutions rushed to market when they are clearly not ready to meet a
KAL believes that it is more likely to be a failure in the software than
in the hardware or the other factors that prevents a system from staying
fully operational over a long period of time. With proper software
design kiosk systems can achieve the same levels of reliability of ATMs
(up to 99%). In many cases the software system can "work around" the
hardware issues and potentially compensate for its deficiencies.
In an ATM application approximately 30% of the software code deals with
the normal transaction business logic while the remaining 70% handles as
many fault and problem conditions as possible. Since a kiosk is in many
cases a "mission critical" system much like a bank's ATM it then follows
that its application should be designed with the same level of
durability and robustness as an ATM application. Unfortunately, in many
cases today that is simply not the case.
So how to improve the stability of a kiosk?
First, there is a glaring need for an established, robust, standard
protocol for talking to the peripheral components that are increasingly
being used in kiosk systems. XFS, universally acknowledged by the ATM
industry as that industry's standard, should play the same role for
kiosk systems. The XFS standard includes support for most devices
typically integrated into kiosk systems. A second standard that should
be universally supported is OPOS and it covers retail-oriented devices
(such as a OCR Reader) that may not be found in the XFS standard. Both
standards provide paths for proper fault reporting as well as isolating
the application from hardware dependence - an important factor in cost
effectiveness and ease of deployment.
Second, when creating self-service application solutions one must start
with a stable software platform. The platform should support standard
software tools, languages, and protocols (HTML, XML, HTTP, others) and
allow for rapid development of complex systems. Equally important is
that the development platform must provide the development team with a
reliable way of detecting and correcting coding errors before the system
KAL's Kalignite embraces these standards and provides a stable
development platform. Kalignite provides the necessary robustness,
functionality, and security needed to make kiosk software as fault
tolerant and stable as software found in the ATM industry.