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What is a Multimedia Kiosk?

A multimedia kiosk is an interactive terminal featuring software and hardware that provides access to information and applications for communication, commerce, entertainment, or education. Enabling users to engage in a variety of services, these standalone devices often populate public spaces, streamlining processes and enhancing user experiences. Ever wondered how they're transforming customer service? Join us as we explore their dynamic impact.
B. Miller
B. Miller

A multimedia kiosk is any type of large computer terminal, most often located in a public place, which the general public may use for various purposes. An ATM is a type of multimedia kiosk, for instance; a user can walk up to the terminal, insert a debit card, and withdraw money from an account without needing to interact with a bank teller or other employee. Multimedia kiosks are often found in places such as supermarkets, shopping malls, airports, and convenience stores, among others, and most feature convenient touchscreens.

Though an ATM is probably the most common type of multimedia kiosk, there are many others available as well. A photo printing kiosk is very common. These often have different functions; for instance, one may be able to insert the memory card from a digital camera. The photos will then be loaded onto the screen, where the user can individually select which photos he or she wants to print.

ATMs are considered multimedia kiosks.
ATMs are considered multimedia kiosks.

In addition to selecting the photos to be printed, the user may be able to make changes to size, change photos from color to black and white, or add colorful borders to the photos, among other changes. Some photo printing kiosks can print the pictures immediately, while others must be printed by a store employee, and may usually be picked up within one hour to one day. Other types of photo printing kiosks allow one to scan in a physical photo or multiple photos on a flatbed scanner, and the photo can then be manipulated, enhanced, or reprinted without damaging or changing the original.

Multimedia kiosks are found in shopping malls.
Multimedia kiosks are found in shopping malls.

Another type of interactive multimedia kiosk is a DVD rental kiosk. These allow customers to insert payment, generally through cash or a credit card, and select a DVD to rent. The customer may then return the DVD to the kiosk when he or she is finished watching it. These are just a few of the many different types of multimedia kiosks available, many of which can be customized for different purposes at schools or companies. Some businesses even allow their employees to clock in and out of work through the use of a multimedia kiosk.

Many multimedia kiosks offer the option to print color photos in black and white.
Many multimedia kiosks offer the option to print color photos in black and white.

If a business wishes to add a multimedia kiosk to their location, it is up to them to purchase or rent the machine. The business is typically responsible for maintaining the kiosk, though the distributor generally offers support services for a fee as well. Many people enjoy the convenience and ease of use of a multimedia kiosk, and find that it benefits their business to have one.

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Discussion Comments


@jmc88 - We have something similar to that at the car wash in my neighborhood. If you aren't having to worry about your time or having money with you at the moment, you are much more likely to spend a little bit more.

Something else that is pretty common are information kiosks like at malls or large buildings. I live near a very large mall, and it is hard to remember where all of the store are, especially if you are looking for one of the smaller ones. They have little kiosks around the place where you can just search by the store you want, and it will tell you how to get there.

Besides that, something else I have seen in a couple places is a bill payment kiosk. I don't think it is too hard to send your bill in or pay it online, but I guess it might be good if you forgot and need to make your payment quickly.


@jcraig - Interesting. I have seen a couple of those in my town, as well, but I have never used one to know that they can take credit cards. Speaking of that, though, there is a gas station near my house that has an air pump that will accept credit cards.

There is a small touch screen where you can select the tire pressure you want. After that, you just insert your money or swipe your card, and the machine starts. It will give a beep once the indicated tire pressure is reached. I have never used it yet, but it seems like it might be kind of convenient. It's not really that hard just to check the tire pressure with a gauge, though. I figure in the end, it ends up making the company more money, because people don't have to worry about hunting around for quarters.


@cardsfan27 - In the student union of my college, they have a whole row of vending machines that are controlled with touch pads now. I guess it is kind of neat to have them, but I can't see where they work any better than the old-fashioned kind. I can understand needing them for things like ATMs and picture kiosks, but not for vending machines. Having the touch screens just opens the machines up to people wanting to damage them like you said.

Somewhere else that I have seen these kiosks is for public parking. In my city, they have started to do away with parking meters downtown. Now what they have are small kiosks on each side of the street where you can pay for a certain amount of time. Sometimes it is inconvenient to have to walk to the machine, but they let you use cash and credit cards, so there is no more digging around for change.


Once you start to really stop and think about it, these multimedia kiosks are everywhere. The amazing thing is that not too long ago people would have thought it was crazy if you said you'd be able to go and rent movies from what is basically a vending machine.

I think the only real downside to having all these things as a self service kiosk is that they can break down fairly regularly. There have been a few times where I wanted to either get a movie or something else, and the machine was out of order. Having these things in the open makes them susceptible to the elements as well as to people who just want to vandalize something.

I am trying to think of other popular kiosks, but I can't really think of anything else. Does anyone else have any good examples?

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    • ATMs are considered multimedia kiosks.
      By: meryll
      ATMs are considered multimedia kiosks.
    • Multimedia kiosks are found in shopping malls.
      By: LuckyPhoto
      Multimedia kiosks are found in shopping malls.
    • Many multimedia kiosks offer the option to print color photos in black and white.
      By: stryjek
      Many multimedia kiosks offer the option to print color photos in black and white.