Starting October 1st, Alan Mischler is our new President and Chief Executive Officer. Alan succeeds Mike James, founder, who will now serve as our Director of Product Development.
As president, Alan will be responsible for driving top-line growth, operational productivity, agility, cost efficiency and effectiveness throughout the business.
“I’m thrilled to join Kiosk Group,” said Alan. “This business is fast-paced and well-positioned for growth. I expect to leverage our great team and capabilities, along with Mike’s insight and innovation, and maximize our cost-competitiveness to satisfy our customers’ and industry needs.”
Alan has a long track record of operating successful businesses. Prior to joining Kiosk Group, Alan served as president of CIS Secure Computing, a leading provider of TEMPEST and custom secure products and engineering solutions. Alan spent nearly 17 years as chief financial officer and part owner of Digital Systems Resources, growing from a team of six employees to over 500, culminating with a multi-million dollar sale to General Dynamics.
Alan holds a master’s degree in business management from Boston University and a BA in business from James Madison University.
“Alan is just what we need at just the right time,” said Mike. “I am looking forward to working with Alan to take Kiosk Group to the next level.”
In our recent 9.0 update to Kiosk Pro, we’ve added support for multiple tabs to our Plus and Enterprise versions.
Designed to increase the flexibility of the apps, this update makes Kiosk Pro a solid option for use cases where multiple tabs or windows are required. These include login flows that open in a separate tab, which are frequently used in banking applications and other enterprise environments.
“We’ve had users requesting support for multiple tabs for years,” said Becca Rice, Director of Software Development. “As a kiosk app, we’ve always prioritized app stability. In the past, potential methods for adding support for multiple tabs always had the potential to compromise app stability as they increased the memory footprint of the app. With the introduction of the WKWebView browser component, Apple changed all that.”
WKWebView runs out of process, meaning that its memory is threaded separately from the app; when it exceeds its allocation, it will crash without crashing the app (which results in the app being notified and attempting to reload the page).
“This means that we’re now able to support multiple tabs in WKWebView. It took a lot of work by our team to make existing features tab-friendly, but I’m excited that we were able to make this happen for our users.”
As a result of our expanded in-house production facilities, we’ve been able to offer an ever-increasing number of options for customization. This is becoming a larger part of what we do, so our new website is dedicated to custom projects - the Kiosk Group Custom Shop
“We’ve always been proud of our ability to accommodate customer requests,” said company president, Mike James, “but investing in state-of-the-art printers and machining tools has really taken this to a new level. Bringing more of our production in-house was a great decision - both for us as a company and for our customers - and we wanted to highlight those stories in a new way.”
The new Custom Shop website includes information on current customization options and existing projects. A walk-through of the creation process for a custom kiosk helps new customers know what to expect.
“Every custom project really starts with a conversation. We dig deep to understand the customer’s ideas and the project constraints, then follow through with our engineering team to find the best possible solution.”
As part of our efforts to ensure our kiosks are accessible to visitors with visual impairments, we’ve added the option to add braille to any smooth faceplate or signage.
Each braille character is made up of up to six UV-stable, black acrylic spheres permanently embedded into the bezel surrounding the tablet. Prior to sphere insertion, holes are drilled out on a specialty engraving router, ensuring that each dot is placed correctly.
Our braille engraving complies with all current federal ADA standards (ADAAG), building code standards (ANSI), as well as California Title 24 standards. These standards require rounded dots and specific size, height, spacing, and placement.
For projects that include an interactive component, braille can be used to instruct visitors how to access an audio-friendly version of the interface. Permanent external speakers, handsets, headphones, or audio jack access for visitors supplying their own headsets can be added, depending on the needs of the project.
"It's already a requirement to have braille on US government kiosks and we expect California and other progressive states to follow suit in the next few years,” said Mike James, company president. “We advise our customers to get started with braille and other assistive technologies now."
To help us manage demand and streamline our manufacturing processes, we’ve implemented a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.
After evaluating a number of possible solutions, the team selected LillyWorks, a relative newcomer to the ERP world, based on its material resource planning capabilities and the ability to drive the manufacturing process on the floor through touchscreen interfaces instead of traditional paper travelers.
“We're still new to LillyWorks, but we've been using the system since the start of the year,” said Brian James, Senior Staff Analyst. “We are very excited about the progress we have already seen with reductions of out of stock inventory and material/resource planning to help prioritize orders. The future looks bright!”
The new system handles quoting and sales orders, purchasing and inventory management, manufacturing and production lead time, as well as financials, providing a fully-integrated, real-time view of the business.
Kiosk Pro, Kiosk Group’s popular series of iOS kiosk apps, passed a new milestone in early November: 250,000 licenses sold!
Since their introduction in 2010 alongside the first iPad, the Kiosk Pro series have become the bestselling kiosk apps for iOS, making it easy for tablet owners to configure their devices for use by visitors.
“We’ve enjoyed seeing how our apps can help a variety of users”, said Chris Grooms, Senior Project Manager. “Kiosk Pro has been used for everything from providing interactive museum exhibits to making check-in and other self-service systems.”
The series of apps have been in continuous development since, adding new functionality in response to customer demand. There are now four versions of the app to meet the needs of any iPad kiosk project:
“We’ve been lucky to work directly alongside the hardware team here at Kiosk Group,” said Becca Rice, Director of Software Development. “The level of integration between our kiosk hardware and software is really unmatched. When a customer comes to us with a specific request, we’re able to present a complete solution.”
One of the most-highly discussed kiosk projects of 2017, Shake Shack’s Astor Place kiosk initiative has launched using a customized version of our traditional countertop iPad kiosks.
In order to support Shake Shack’s plans for kiosk-only ordering and a cashless environment, the team at Kiosk Group designed a custom head enclosure that incorporates Square’s contactless payment systems while maintaining the streamlined look Shake Shack was looking for.
The custom design also incorporated a slim, permanently mounted base to minimize the kiosk’s space requirements, helping Shake Shack meet their goals of serving more guests at peak times by reducing lines and wait times.
“The Astor Place Shack will be a playground where we can test and learn the ever-shifting needs of our guests,” said Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack in a press release. “We’re excited to lead with kiosk-only ordering, putting control of the Shake Shack experience in our guest’s hands....The Astor Place Shack represents our dedication to innovation and to providing the best for our guests and for our teams.”
To make this project a reality, Kiosk Group worked with teams at several top-tier tech companies, including Square, Fuzz Productions, Olo, and NCR Omni-Channel Solutions.
“This was a fast-moving project and everyone involved was committed to making sure it was a success,” said Mike James, founder and CEO of Kiosk Group. “It was great to see everything come together so quickly and we’re hoping to see this type of project rolled out to other locations soon.”
Kiosk Group has partnered with Redpark, a company specializing in wired data connections for iOS devices, to offer the company’s newest product addition, the ‘Gigabit + POE’ and ‘Gigabit + Power’ ethernet adapters for iOS.
In the past, one of the weaknesses of using iPads for kiosk use was the need to rely on a wireless data connection.
“iPads are the most popular tablet choice for our kiosk enclosures,” said Chris Grooms, Senior Project Manager. “The availability of wired ethernet makes these tablets an even stronger option moving forward.”
These ethernet adapters allow users to connect an iPad to the internet over a reliable, wired ethernet connection while simultaneously charging the device. They support 10/100/1000 gigabit networking and provide bandwidth up to 225 Mbps.
In response to increased demand for custom enclosures and new tablets and accessories, we’ve expanded our engineering team with a new hire.
Ron Nottingham has recently joined us in the newly-created Manager, Engineering role. His primary responsibilities are new designs, process improvements, and helping to further develop engineering standards and standard designs.
"I was thrilled when Ron agreed to join our team,” said Mike James, founder & CEO. “With his background, he brings a wide range of best practices and experience-based wisdom. He's worked on everything from Symbol Technologies scanners early in his career to, most-recently, wind tunnels at Aerolab. The width and breadth of his knowledge is hard to come by these days.”
Ron is a licensed professional engineer in two states with over 20 years of experience across multiple product categories. In his spare time, he enjoys church, grilling, and scuba diving.
As a part of our manufacturing expansion, we’ve invested in a new C.R.Onsrud large-format CNC machine, bringing us up to a total of five CNC machines for production.
The largest of our current CNC machines, the Onsrud features a 5' x 12' vacuum bed with a probe to measure all surfaces before cutting.
It uses a precise, high-speed spindle, allowing us to mill the thermoplastics used in our head enclosures more quickly at scale. The Onsrud’s direct drive, independent channel design enhances accuracy, ensuring that the narrow tolerances required for our heads are met.
“By allowing us to cut full 5’ by 10’ sheets in a single go, the new machine really speeds things up,” said Daniel Eddy, Director of Information Technologies.
With the introduction earlier this year of the new TSP100U model, Star Micronics brings the possibility of wired thermal receipt printing to iOS devices, which had previously required the use of a wireless connection like Bluetooth and WiFi. We’ve moved forward with supporting this new printer both in terms of hardware and software.
The TSP100U connects to an iPad using a standard USB-Lightning cable that supplies power to the tablet and relays jobs directly to the printer. As a bonus, the printer is also less expensive than models supporting wireless connections.
“The TSP100U is a great solution for kiosks,” said Becca Rice, Director of Software Development. “The wired connection ensures reliability and uptime, which are so important for unattended use.”
On the hardware side, we’ve redesigned the printer case that works with our standalone kiosk models to accommodate the new form factor of the TSP100U, allowing you to easily protect the printer, its power supply and physical connection to the tablet from visitors.
We’ve added a new large format Canon Océ Arizona UV flatbed printer to our print shop, allowing us to print artwork directly on a wide variety of surfaces and expand the graphics and branding options we offer for our kiosks.
The new printer features variable-dot printing that delivers near-photographic image quality, even at high print speeds. It has two high-intensity UV lamps right next to the ink-jet head, which cure the specially formulated ink immediately after it hits the media.
“I am completely blown away by the high-quality images our UV printer can produce on practically any substrate that can fit on our 4'x8' print bed. I'm constantly thinking to myself, ‘What else can we print on?’, said Melissa Reeves, Senior Graphics Technician.
The printer also provides full-bleed printing capability that eliminates the extra finishing steps of trimming prints for a clean, professional look.
In addition to colored inks, the printer is capable of printing white ink, which can be built up in multiple passes for texture effects. With this technique, it can create wood grains, raised text and even braille.
White ink also allows for printing on clear substrates, allowing us to do reverse images which can be viewed through a clear, glossy acrylic or to create lightbox-style graphics that can be backlit with the white ink providing a light-diffusing layer.
“We look forward to creating a masterpiece for all or our customers no matter how big or small a job. The sky's the limit for what we can do with this amazing machine,” said Dave Heckman, Print Shop Manager.
One of our goals for 2017 is moving more of our production in-house and to move forward with that, we’ve expanded our facilities, doubling our production space to over 11,000 square feet.
Expanding allows us to create separate areas for each step in the production process. On one end of the space, we’ve built an enclosed, dust-free zone for printing and graphics with a second floor above for additional storage.
The rest of the new space will be dedicated to manufacturing with CNC tables, drill presses and other large-scale tools, a powder coating booth, and a welding area. The entire area is being fitted with compressed air hookups for blowers, tooling, and cooling purposes, as well as vacuum systems to clear cutting debris.
Previous production areas are being converted to warehouse space for stock inventory with additional space set aside for staging, assembly, and packaging, making it easier for our shipping team to quickly and accurately fulfill orders.