ABACUS SOFTWARE: Video and Web-based applications combine in new kiosk system at major UK airports

February 12, 1999 09:13 AM EST

M2 Communications

A new interactive kiosk-based service will become available in the first quarter of 1999 at London's major airports, delivered by international multimedia company, WAM Interactive, and developed by Abacus Software under the terms of a contract with a value of approximately GBP 100,000.

The new "WAMworld" system will offer a digital marketing network, initially for seven BAA-owned terminals. The first stage of the project will see the installation of fifty 'WAMworlds' in total, sited in the four terminals at Heathrow. It is anticipated that the scheme will extend to other UK and European airports ultimately.

The uniquely designed WAMworld kiosks combine 'public' videos screens and 'private' Web-based marketing applications, where airport users can find out more information. As the initial phase, the 'public' window will incorporate some forty promotional videos; those companies taking the 'video windows' will also be able to provide a 'marketer application' in the 'private' window, which is the Web-based application, providing touchscreen driven information on the company and its products.

Each WAMworld has the capability to read and verify card payments, accept and compile personal data supplied by the customer, accept and process orders for merchandise, print coupons, contracts and insurance policies and provide access to other servers, including Internet sites and email. Typical applications are likely to include electronic catalogues, consumer surveys, and the ability to book rental cars and hotel rooms. In the future the WAM system could be used in conjunction with frequent flyer and loyalty cards. The passenger would swipe their card and be greeted with a personalised message, before going on to browse or carry out transactions.

Abacus Software has been responsible for designing and implementing the network infrastructure and all the software for the central server (which houses the core database), the WAMworld servers and the individual kiosks. Replication software is used to distribute the files as efficiently as possible from the terminal server to the network.

Companies wishing to participate in the kiosk promotional programme send their videos and marketing applications to a test centre where WAM Interactive ensures that everything works in the kiosk environment. These applications are then transferred to Abacus Software where they are put on the servers which distribute the videos and the Web-based applications via LAN servers to each WAMworld kiosk. The marketing window of the WAMworld system uses Java and other Web-based technologies so that companies can use existing applications for the new kiosk system.

Steve Feigen, managing director of Abacus Software: "One of the challenges of this project, which is the first of its kind in the UK to combine videos and Web-based applications in a kiosk, was to develop the monitoring software which would track delivery and the playing of videos and the LED promotions, and also report back any failures. This called for the development of a complete remote application management environment. This is a software and hardware combination, installed in each kiosk."

Abacus has extensive experience of kiosk-based applications for clients such as British Rail, and has acted as technology co-ordinator for the WAM Interactive project.

Notes for editors:

Involved in on-line services since 1983, Abacus Software offers design, networking, database and systems integration and electronic publishing services to many leading UK companies, including British Telecom, IPC and over twenty local authorities. Specialist skills include web site development and hosting, Intranet implementation and multimedia kiosk network design. Abacus has recently been acquired by Wilmington Group PLC.

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CONTACT: Steve Feigen, Abacus Software Limited
Tel: +44 (0)171 549 2500
Fax: +44 (0)171 549 2501
e-mail: [email protected]

Copyright © 1999, M2 Communications Ltd.

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