Key consideration #3: Touch Screen Software Planning

Jul 03 2012

Time spent planning the touch screen software component of your multimedia kiosk is time well spent.  Without proper planning you can end up with a kiosk that is not very user friendly or worse, vulnerable to malicious behavior.  There are a number of things to consider during this planning phase.

First, OS.  Although your hardware planning may govern this choice, it’s worth discussing here because you may have a choice of Operating System with your particular hardware or you may decide to reconsider hardware options based on your analysis of OS.  Basically you have 3 choices:  Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.  Our recommendation is Windows because most computer users are familiar (and more comfortable) with Windows and if a problem occurs, it’s much easier to find someone to investigate.  Another reason to choose Windows is that there are more program (and programming) options for Windows based machines.  FYI, our point2explore games and programs will work on any of the three major operating systems.

Second, organize your content and message.  Spend adequate time planning your message and educational content.  If possible, prioritize the data to be included.  Keep the general message or theme concise remembering that there can be a wealth of data available “behind” the general theme.  Once you have settled on your message, list your data resources.  Possible resources include you (your knowledge), your photos, and your organization’s educational materials (print, web, etc.).  If you intend to use outside educational resources like web sites, books, CD-ROMs, etc. you must get permission to use and may have to pay a fee for use.

With your theme and data resources in hand, you are ready to consider the program specifics.  There are many options for delivery of your message but some options to consider include:

  • What is the age group you intend to use the program?
  • Do you want to develop an educational game? 
  • Do you want several game and/or program options to interest a variety of users?
  • Do you need the ability to update the game or program regularly?
  • Do you want to give access to a web site or use web resources?

There are many options for touch screen software including programming your own program (as simple as using PowerPoint for kiosk programs), purchasing programming services, and purchasing software.  Most kiosk software developers will create any program you come up with or even develop a custom concept for you.  Although we do custom programming, the biggest advantage to using our software is that it is pre-programmed, completely customizable, field tested, and designed for touch screen or mouse use.  We insert your data to customize the kiosk games and programs.  This makes our software affordable while being custom.

Warning Number One:  Beware of “off the shelf” software.  We have seen many educators purchase inexpensive education software with the intent to use in a kiosk or simply on a computer on a desk in the facility.  The main issue with “off the shelf” software is the little X in the upper right corner (or the little red dot in the upper left for Mac software).  Clicking (or touching) this button will close the program that is currently running and expose the operating system desktop.  Now your user can open any program they want, any hard drive, and the system files. With access to the desktop, it won’t take much time for a malicious user to render the computer unusable.

Warning Number Two:  With the growth of the internet, you may have great resources to share from the internet (your web site or other sites you have found).  Giving access to web sites in a kiosk is not as straight forward as you may think.  You want to make sure that your surfers don’t have free access to the entire web. 

I’ve really just scratched the surface on planning your touch screen kiosk software.  I highly recommend using an experienced consultant or a software developer with experience with museum exhibits.  I also encourage you to take a look at our web site for ideas on programs and games.  The next key consideration will expand on software with the consideration of the user interface.

If you have any recommendations or additions, please comment by clicking the “Comments” link below.  We’d love to hear from you!!

Chris Meyer


CD Meyer, Inc./point2explore

point2explore is product line of customizable touch screen kiosk programs including interactive games and informational programs.  point2explore products are currently running in over 100 museums and have been used in corporate events across the country. Visit our web site at


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