By Dan Havlik
Few would argue that one of the hottest product categories in the industry right now is the digital photo kiosk. So to keep our readers better informed about this burgeoning segment of the imaging marketplace, we are christening a brand new department in this space this month entitled "Kiosk Corner." The departmentwhich will start as a quarterly report but will appear more frequently in PTN in the futurewill feature news and information about the world of kiosks, along with snapshot profiles of some of the manufacturers who are bringing these innovative machines to the marketplace.
If you have news about kiosks that you would like to share with our readers, please send it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to include it in our next report. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this exciting new department in PTN.
It's been about a year since Northern VA-based Lucidiom began testing the marketplace with its concept of fully customizable self-service photo kiosks, or Automated Photo Machines (APMs), as the company calls them. And the last year has borne much fruit for Lucidiom, including a more clearly focused concept resulting from its experiences placing APMs at mass market and photo specialty stores across the country.
So what's next for Lucidiom now that the yearlong trial run has been completed? Well, releasing a new full line of kiosks at this year's PMA, of course.
"We had a booth at last year's PMA but we were just getting our feet wet then," said Steve Giordano, Jr., the company's president and CEO. "We released a product back then, but after a year of testing it out, we found that if we bent it just a little more we'd hit a home run. And now that we've done that, it's time to hit the masses."
What Lucidiom will be hitting the masses with are four new APMs designed for a wide range of retailers based on need. At the entry-level end are the APM1000, a basic desktop unit resembling a PC with a touch screen, and the APM2000, an "all-in-one" countertop kiosk. On the higher end, Lucidiom has the APM3000, a rugged standard kiosk, and it's more sophisticated big brother, the APM5000. While in one form or another, Lucidiom's new line resemble traditional kiosks, be careful not to refer to them as such.
"We don't call them kiosks," Giordano explained. "They're Automated Photo Machines because they're sort of analogous to Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs."
He noted that the units are fully compatible with a range of dye-sub printers and minilabs including Noritsu, Gretag, Fuji Frontier and thermal printers, Konica and a host of others. The APMs also support remote printing services. Giordano added that the goal of the APM is high-volume movement, allowing customers to upload their digital images in a few minutes and return later to pick up their prints, thus freeing up the machine for the next person in line. "It's more similar to the automated check-out you'd find in a supermarket these days than a Kodak Picture Maker."
Though the company was formed about a year ago, the folks at Lucidiom are hardly greenhorns in the world of digital imaging. The current team is the same group who pioneered imaging solutions for the last seven years as Digital Now. In the last year as Lucidiom they've installed about 100 of their APM units in Circuit City stores across the country as well as at such noted photo specialty stores as Dan's Camera City in Allentown, PAPTN's 2002 Dealer of the Year.
While Lucidiom currently has only about 215 APMs in the market-place, after PMA 2003, who knows?
For more information, visit www.lucidiom.com.
What if you could get great digital prints from the same place you get your fruits and vegetables? That's the thinking behind an intriguing new pilot program that pairs change machine king Coinstar Inc. with PhotoWorks Kiosks, Inc.
Coinstar, the Seattle-based company which operates 10,500 coin counting kiosks worldwide, and PhotoWorks Kiosks, a subsidiary of the Seattle photo processing company, have put two and two together and come up with a new supermarket kiosk allowing digital camera users to view images and order prints for home delivery.
The pilot program began in January at about 50 supermarkets in Reno, NV, Charlotte, NC, and Seattle, WA and is scheduled to run for the next six months. To use the service, digital camera users shopping at Market Place, Scolari's, Bi-Lo and Lowes supermarkets in those cities, bring their digital memory cards or CDs to the Coinstar Center in the store. At the center, the customer can view the images on a touchscreen interface; select the ones they want to print, and complete the order a few minutes later with the swipe of a credit card. The images are then uploaded to PhotoWorks for digital photo printing. Digital prints and/or photo CDs arrive at the customer's home a couple of days later by mail. A 4x5 print can cost as little as .29 cents and postage is free.
"We're providing a print solution that is convenient, easy to use, and less expensive than home printing," said Gary Christophersen, president of PhotoWorks Kiosks. "We believe the accessibility of Coinstar Centers, combined with value pricing make this service an attractive option for the rapidly growing number of digital camera owners."