At Photo Imaging News, we estimate there are more than 400,000 photo kiosks operating throughout the world, and that number is growing. As the number of photo processing centers declines, new photo kiosks are popping up all the time in many retail locations.
In the U.S., with the majority of images uploaded to photo kiosks from smartphones, the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) and very sophisticated apps changed how kiosks are used.
Millennials, who embrace m-commerce, are creating orders for prints as well as other photo products on their mobile phones. They may obtain “instant prints” from a nearby photo kiosk, but their orders for photo books and other personalized photo products are produced elsewhere and sent to them. Moreover, older generations are still visiting retail locations and creating their printing orders at photo kiosks.
A Kodak Moments survey in Europe indicates that printing photos is surprisingly prevalent among the young; the younger people are, the more frequently they print. For instance, 35% of 13–26 year olds, primarily female, print several times a month; 69% print instantly at photo kiosks.
In addition, a typical photo kiosk offers 400 different output products, although nearly 80% of their revenue is from prints. Steve Giordano, Jr., from Photo Finale, shared some statistics with us; he collected them from his customer kiosk network. Over the past three years, photo print orders from kiosks have declined 20% per year; while orders for “creative” photo products from kiosks have risen 4% per year. For comparison, mobile sales have risen substantially over that same period.
New Approaches to Photo Kiosks
Furthermore, two interesting introductions last year show different trends. The Fujifilm GetPix DASH photo kiosk is a low-cost platform for making only 4×6-inch prints from mobile devices without the need for a dedicated app. Users upload their images to mygetpix.com and receive a code. The code is then used at the nearest GetPix DASH photo kiosk to print the images.
In addition, relatively unknown outside of Europe, di support has an installed base of more than 12,000 photo kiosks. The company introduced its 18.5×18.5-inch PrintCube, with a camera and a 7-inch display. Consumers create their orders on a kiosk (which is mounted atop the PrintCube, or remotely) and receive a printed QR code for their photos.
Subsequently, consumers scan the QR code (Touch to Scan) at the PrintCube and the appropriate photos are printed out. With only two components besides the printer on the PrintCube—the MagicBox with the electronics and the display screen—service is as simple as swapping out the old MagicBox with a new one that automatically syncs with the cloud.
Moreover, the PrintCube mobile app locates a nearby PrintCube location, connects directly with the PrintCube and also uploads the print order in less than a minute.
New Printers and Media
With the demand for faster printing, photo kiosks are now utilizing multiple as well as faster printers. New printers entering this market include the U.S.-made inkjet Primera Impressa IP60 photo printer. It takes 7 seconds to output a 4×6-inch print and offers a wide range of media. Using a 6-inch wide roll, it also prints sizes from 6×2 inches up to 6×24 inches.
Another recent notable printer is from HiTi Digital. The HiTi X620 dye-sub printer has four separate ribbons that produce a single-pass 4×6-inch photo in 1.5 secs. It also prints standard 4x6s and panorama photos of any length up to 36 inches.
In addition, new media from DNP Imagingcomm America includes dye-sub Luxury media in both Metallic and Silver Pearl versions. The company also has a new 4×6-inch media with a perforation along the right side that enables the creation of 4×4-inch square Instagram-style prints.
Photo books are not yet relevant for young people. That is because they take time to create and are not produced on-site through photo kiosks. But AI is changing that obstacle; especially as photo kiosks are now connected to the cloud. Using their smartphones, consumers can upload and access stored images. Moreover, current applications of AI include face recognition, object recognition, voice recognition and image selection.
At a recent Business Forum Imaging conference in Germany, CEWE Color demonstrated a touch-screen app that creates the photo book automatically. It adds photos from multiple devices (different family members, etc.); it also employs auto-design, with touch-screen ability to change the layout and typeface, as well as add maps, etc.
In addition, intelligent event detection will enable consumers to access all of their stored photos that have metadata associated with a location or event to create a photo book. Moreover, face recognition will enable consumers to access all stored photos of a person from a single image, regardless of age or whether they are wearing eyeglasses.
Another CEWE project is the Photobook Kommando. The voice command app allows consumers to command the system to create a photo book of a specific occasion.
All in all, these are exciting developments that foretell dramatic changes in our perception of photo kiosks.