Going Mobile: Photo Kiosks Shift Focus from Digital Cameras to Smart and...

Going Mobile: Photo Kiosks Shift Focus from Digital Cameras to Smart and Social Media

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It was only about two years ago when the editors at PIR poised the question: Will smartphone pictures ever be printed? Digital cameras were already being replaced by iPhones and Androids, and shutterbugs were more likely to upload their favorite snapshots to Facebook than to share them as prints. Photo retailers were once more challenged to find new profit channels.

Frank Simon, president and CEO of Ecce Terram Internet Services, says you have to go after the sale as soon as the consumer snaps the picture. In other words, you have to go mobile.

Here’s how some photo kiosk manufacturers are finding ways to recapture sales through social media.

Dakis Inc., developer of the Cloud Photo Kiosk for the web, is launching the Full HD Cloud Photo Kiosk, a hardware/software solution designed to take full advantage of current trends in photo printing and photo gift fulfillment. The HD Cloud connects with mobile phones and tablets for download of images, and it provides access to Facebook albums. The system runs locally with web capabilities, storing job files on the store’s local network, and managing multiple kiosks through a single account. The upgraded printing workflow software connects to virtually every type of lab and printer and automatically routes orders to multiple suppliers.

Customers can place their orders through the retailer’s in-store photo kiosk or the company’s website with a fully integrated, customized home page—both have similar interfaces for easier transition. Photo Factory 3, Dakis’s online software, will be shown with its recent enhancements, including mass pricing options, theme tags and a dynamic parametric search. Customers can choose from hundreds of product templates to create their personalized gift. The order process requires no customer log in or online photo album—resulting in more completed orders. Labs can even develop their own unique photo products without any knowledge of computer programming. dakis.com

Eastman Kodak Company is offering several new kiosk products that promise to expand creative printing services offered by photo retailers worldwide. One of the most notable ventures is a partnership between Eastman Kodak and On Demand Books, an on-site, digital-to-print book publisher. The two companies have integrated Kodak Picture Kiosks with On Demand Books Espresso Book Machine (EBM)—combining their capabilities to give consumers access to an in-store full-service digital-to-print media center.

On Demand Books is also working with ReaderLink, the largest full-service distributor of books in North America. ReaderLink brings more than 7 million in-copyright and public-domain titles, giving EBM customers immediate access to any of its titles in less than four minutes. By integrating this solution with the Kodak Picture Kiosk, consumers can go beyond the printing of existing book titles, or self-publish titles (with creative and technical assistance), to produce their own perfect-bound, high-quality Kodak photo books for in-store pickup. As with Kodak’s other award-winning kiosk platforms, customers will be walked through the process of choosing images, backgrounds and text.

The Kodak Picture Kiosk and On Demand Books solution was introduced to North American retailers in late 2012. It’s scheduled to expand across the international market starting in 2013. For information on On Demand Books, visit ondemandbooks.com. ReaderLink Distribution Services, LLC, is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, readerlink.com.

Kodak is also highlighting its new “immersive” Kodak Picture Kiosk G4XL order station with Picture Kiosk Plus v1.0 software. The G4XL station represents significant advancements in how consumers view and interact with their photos in retail printing stations. It features an interactive, 21.5-inch cinematic monitor (16:9 ratio) that uses Kodak’s Next Generation Touch Screen technology to display more vibrant on-screen images, according to the company. The Picture Kiosk Plus software adds to the interactive environment by providing a more responsive tactile graphical user interface.

Several new kiosk applications give consumers greater access to images for printing: My Kodak Moments app and My Kodak Moments Mobile app both tap into popular trends in consumer imaging, making it easier for customers to access their image files. My Kodak Moments Mobile allows customers to instantly download image files from their iPhone and Android smartphones to the G4XL, while My Kodak Moments is used to create Kodak photo books from online Facebook albums.   

The Kodak Kiosk Connect app, introduced in November, provides customers with wireless image transfer from smartphones to the Kodak Picture Kiosk. These applications provide access to increasingly popular image-capture devices as well as online social media—giving consumers the ability to design and print customized photo books, greeting cards, calendars, collages and prints—for same-day pickup at participating retailers. kodak.com

Fujifilm North America Corporation
announced it will launch an all-new Fujifilm VNX photo terminal and Fujifilm Multi Service Kiosk software specifically designed to give retailers more opportunities and flexibility in offering unique photo products and financial and prepaid services for consumers. With the rapid increase of digital and mobile phone photography, demand for instant prints and photo products from kiosks will continue to give businesses new opportunities for growth and revenue.
The Fujifilm VNX terminal has a modern form-factor that features a 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen, a multi-touch 1080p high-resolution monitor and USB 3.0 connectivity for faster data transfer of customer images. The terminal also offers an improved customer experience with support for higher capacity media cards, an easy to use user interface and an easy-load receipt printer.

Designed to work seamlessly with the Fujifilm VNX terminal, the new Fujifilm Multi Service Kiosk software offers a more robust customer product experience and allows businesses to offer multiple financial services and shopping tools to generate revenue without increasing inventory.

Fujifilm’s is also touting its professional-grade Superia Photo Albums, which are photo books printed on silver halide paper. Fujifilm’s new Superia Photo Albums add true photographic quality books to its current selection of digital press-produced photo books. Superia Photo Albums allow retailers to offer a premium photo book that is perfect for recording special occasions, such as weddings and graduations, as well as memorable everyday events.

“People are looking for new, high-quality ways to print their most memorable images, and with Fujifilm’s new Superia Photo Albums, consumers can have direct access to professional-grade photo albums that were once only available to professional photographers,” said Christian Fridholm, vice president of the Printing Services Group, Fujifilm North America Corporation.

Fujifilm Superia Photo Albums will initially be offered mid-2013 in three sizes: 8×8, 8×11, 12×12 with a printed cover and a choice of lustre or glossy paper for interior pages.

The company also introduced the latest addition to its line of Frontier dry minilabs, the Fujifilm Frontier DL650 Pro, which is said to produce vivid images with enhanced sharpness and gradation, print sizes from 3.5×5 inches to 12×48 inches at speeds up to 950  4×6-inch prints per hour, and at resolutions up to 1,440 dpi.

Also improved for 2013 is the Fujifilm ASK-300 dye-sublimation thermal printer that features a matte printing mode that creates a semi-gloss surface, and a high quality mode that creates sharp depiction of letters, narrow lines and realizes high-contrast and deeply refined images. It's marketed as “a perfect instant printing solution for retailers and event photographers.” fujifilm.com

Mitsubishi Electric Visual Solutions America's DPS Click 5000 and DPS Kiosk 7000 integrated digital photofinishing systems both feature large, 17-inch SXGA touch-screen monitors, though the Click 5000 has a smaller footprint (15.9×15.7×10.2 inches). Its easy-to-use menu-driven interface is network compatible—connecting to Mitsubishi’s Kiosk Gifts website where customers can create high-quality photo albums, calendars, cards and other photo gifts. The 5000 can connect to as many as five Mitsubishi printers at a time, ready to print any photo product instantly, in-store. Customers can also order personalized index prints from their digital media as well as Photoclick CDs, complete with viewing software.

The DPS Kiosk 7000 is slightly larger than the 5000, measuring 17.1×16.5×13.1 inches. It can be positioned as a stand-alone, self-service unit—mounted on a countertop, pedestal base or premium cabinet. Kiosk 7000 features include network capability, three printer hookups, Bluetooth and infrared wireless compatibility, multiple size print options, index printing and the ability to accept prepaid cards.

Both the Kiosk 5000 and 7000 can network with Mitsubishi’s Kiosk Gifts website, which offers high-quality photo albums, calendars, and other photo gifts for retail that can be customized in-store, at the kiosk or online (kioskgifts.com) using Mitsubishi’s photo-editing software. mitsubishi-imaging.com

Ecce Terram Internet Services GmbH, a digital imaging solutions company headquartered in Oldenburg, Germany, and Atlanta, Georgia, offers the Photo2lab software solution, plus several recent applications developed to encourage photo lab sales from consumers’ online social media. The Save Your Memories and Share Your Photo Story apps provide photo services that cater to today’s growing mobile and social networking platforms.

Save Your Memories is a Facebook application that automatically presents users with print order options whenever they upload new images to their Facebook albums or mobile device image galleries. After uploading new photos, the Save Your Memories app prompts users to select which of their images should be ordered for print, i.e.: All Images, Since Your Last Order, Last 30 Days or Albums.

Save Your Memories is positioned to complement Share Your Photo Story, the company’s successful white-labeled Facebook application that allows consumers to create and order photo products from social media photos; for example, converting online Facebook albums directly into photo books.

“Today, you have to be ready to take an order the second after they (consumers) take a snapshot with their iPhone or iPad, or when they update their photo timeline on Facebook,” said Frank Simon, president and CEO of Ecce Terram, and the company’s founder. “In today’s mobile world, the majority of consumers trust smartphones and Facebook with their digital photo collection. But phones break, or get lost or stolen.”

For this reason, Simon’s company focuses on open, source-based digital workflow solutions for photo labs and imaging/print industries, as well as tools that encourage consumers to preserve precious visual memories outside the digital sphere. ecce-terram.com

Storefront.com Online Inc., a Vancouver-based technology company, has won 20 DIMA awards for its PhotoKiosk software. We expect to see enhancements to its flagship NEO Suite, an integrated collection of kiosk products and services. Keeping up with popular imaging trends, Storefront.com offers applications for accessing and printing images from mobile and social devices, including: Neo PhotoSite— an interactive web application for creating and ordering prints, gifts, photo books and other products; Neo Mobile, which allows users to view, manage and order photos using their mobile devices; and Neo Social , a plug-in for the online creation, sharing and ordering of T-shirts, mugs and photo books on Facebook. storefront.com

KIS/Photo-Me Group introduced a “groundbreaking” 3D photo kiosk capable of delivering personalized animated photos. The Speedlab 300 3D creates printed 3D photos by layering two digital images and covering them with a lenticular lens to simulate depth and motion. The Speedlab 3D system prints the background image, supplied by the consumer, with a foreground themed graphic, as four interlaced images on one 300-dpi, 4×6-inch dye-sublimation print. The plastic lenticular layer is glued on top—precisely positioned to create the 3D effect. The Speedlab 2-in-1 Flip service uses the same technology to combine two photos—both from the customer’s digital media. By rotating the Flip print from left to right (and back again), customers can watch one image “flip” into the other.

KIS will expand its 3D product line later in 2013 with a new morphing service (still under development) that allows customers to transform a subject’s face by enlarging the eyes or mouth—giving the person an alien- or cartoon-like look. The resulting lenticular print will reproduce the morphing sequence as a short animation. Overall, the lenticular printing process takes about a minute.

KIS also introduced Instant Poster, the first integrated photo kiosk to print custom posters on-site. The fully automated poster kiosk offers customers a single poster size of 15.7×24 inches, which accommodates one poster image or a collage of up to 15 frames. Instant Poster provides users with simple photo-editing tools, including zoom, crop, color correction and black-and-white or sepia tone conversion. A single poster is output on an Epson Stylus Pro 4900 inkjet printer in about five minutes.

The KIS Instant Poster kiosk is expected to become available in the U.S. in mid-2013. Contact Matthieu Moreau, U.S. representative at matthieu.moreau@kis.fr for information (kisusa.com), or its international representative, Pierre Buendia, at pierre.buendia@kis.fr (photo-me.com).

HP introduced a Photo Center 7 software upgrade for retailers that offer in-store prints and photo creative merchandise using HP kiosks. Photo Center 7 expands retailers’ access to their customers’ photos, including those stored online in Facebook albums and pictures captured with iPhone or Android smartphones. Plug-in connectivity allows shoppers to immediately download photos from their mobile devices and order products from HP’s portfolio of photo creative merchandise, including photo books, greeting cards, posters, calendars and new specialty items—now available for same-day fulfillment.

Using Photo Center 7, retailers can now offer same-day printing for HP custom cover photo books and popular wall art décor on orders originating either in-store or online. Customers can choose a favorite photo to feature on the cover of the book (8×11 inches) and add text to both the cover and spine. Personalized wall art includes: HP Premium Canvas—printed on real canvas with HP original ink and gallery-wrapped (stretched over a frame) for professional-quality display; HP Faux Canvas—a lighter weight alternative that is more affordable and easier to hang; and HP mounted photos—ready-to-display photo décor that can be hung on the wall or propped up on a table or desk like a picture frame. hp.com

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