This month the world gets to “reach out and touch someone” through VoIP with what could quite possibly be the very first Skype-based public payphone. This new “Skype Station,” as it is called by its Estonia-based developer, AdTech, is designed to allow users to make free video calls from various public venues. It was deployed on July 6 for testing at Tallinn International Airport, the largest airport in Estonia and home base for the country’s national airline, Estonian Air. The airport is one of ten locations that will serve in the project’s initial testing phase. Additional locations including the Estonian Center for Business Development and Edge Hill University in Lancashire, England.
According to AdTech, the Skype Station strives to be more than “a simple PC dressed up in a futuristic outfit.” AdTech’s Director of Sales, Dmitri Friesen, says the Skype Station provides a “really fun watch and touch experience” for its users.
With its 23-inch touchscreen, the Skype Station is capable of displaying both video content and advertising to its users. A hidden floor sensor is used to detect a user’s presence and prompt him/her to log into Skype. The unit also contains an auto-logout security feature built directly into the floor in order to protect user credentials; merely stepping out of the booth will cause the user to automatically log-out from his or her Skype account. The system further provides a clear visual indicator of the user’s status, lighting the floor up in green when the user is logged in and in blue when the user is logged out.
Although Skype-based communications are the focus of the unit, it is also capable of providing “e-services” such as bill-pay and phone top-up. Advertising can be displayed on the screens when the unit is idle.
The Skype Station is a true “plug-and-play” device, requiring only power and an Internet connection. It is easy to install, easy to clean, and requires no extra maintenance. Its 1,000-mm x 2,400-mm open-faced platform design was created to allow deployers to use the Skype Station in a multiple ways. Such a design won’t provide privacy for donning a Superman costume, but at least it looks cool.
Having received both “engagement and heavy use” within Tallinn International Airport, AdTech already claims the pilot project at Tallinn Airport to be a success. Pending completion of the test program, the company plans to deploy approximately 500 of these kiosks in a variety of public applications such as:
- shopping centers
The basic price for a Skype Station starts at approximately $6,200 USD, although the exact price depends on its specific deployment.
With more than 600 million Skype users worldwide, the Skype Station represents a bold initiative towards satisfying the global demand for free video calls, one that possesses great potential for becoming a successful advertising medium as well.
AdTech, an Estonia-based company, specializes in LED and touch screen applications, including electronic information boards, effect lighting, and dynamic directional signs.