RealTime IT News

A Wireless Kiosk NearU

Public Internet access solutions company NetNearU of College Station, TX, -- which got its start in kiosks -- is bringing a wireless kiosk to a hotspot venue near you.

This week at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, NetNearU will debut and demonstrate its new NNU Runtime Engine for Wi-Fi. This software product will run on a personal computer located in a hotspot venue and serve as not only as a wireless access station for users, but also as a signup point and an overall notification to say "Wi-Fi is here" to customers.

Cody Catalena, Executive Vice President at NetNearU says, "It absolutely makes the user aware the service is available. It gets the user over the 'first use' phobia." The hope is that once an end-user in a public venue sees the kiosk PC, tries it out, and signs up for an account, they'll be ready to make a return trip with their own Wi-Fi equipped laptop.

The PC terminal that has NNU Runtime Engine for Wi-Fi running is locked down for only specific use on the 802.11-based network. Since it is wireless, it runs using the same billing engine the venue owner would setup for their hotspot overall for billing customers.

The NNU Runtime Engine for Wi-Fi also features rotation of advertising on the kiosk PC when it's not in use. Advertising content is handled by the NetNearU ADTRACKOS system -- a wireless ISP could use that system to upload advertising content to multiple kiosk PCs with the NNU Runtime Engine.

The software is free for users of the NetNearU ADTRACKOS or costs $100 per wireless terminal to run for those without ADTRACKOS. The company estimates the cost savings will be substantial either way, considering that some stand-alone PC-based kiosks can cost as much as $5000. Here the venue owner only pays for the software and a PC (Catalena recommends the Gateway Profile 4 system with integrated LCD monitor, which sells for as low as $999).

"The technology in the NNU Runtime Engine and ADTRACKOS is stuff we've done for five years," says Catalena. "We were originally a kiosk company, so this isn't something we just dreamed up. It's a extension of our current technology."

NetNearU will be doing live demonstrations of the NNU Runtime Engine for Wi-Fi this week at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday, December 4 and 5, 2002.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.