“The last thing we want to see on a self-service terminal is the Blue Screen of Death.”
— Eugene Chan, CTO, AXS InfoComm
A few years ago, a Singapore-based company called AXS developed the AXS Station, a QNX-based kiosk that allows people to pay bills, book hotel rooms, purchase movie tickets, make phone calls, exchange emails, access government e-services, and perform a variety of other online transactions. Deployed in shopping malls and other high-traffic locations, the AXS Station network has become the largest broadband transaction-terminal network in Singapore, with more than 560 installations island-wide.
Fast forward to 2009. Another QNX-based transaction terminal — the PAY1 — has become Beijing's only self-service payment kiosk. According to a recent article in AsiaOne Business, the network of PAY1 kiosks “leverages broadband Internet infrastructure to link the kiosks into a secure VPN, and the kiosks are connected both wired and wirelessly.”
So who needs a payment kiosk? It’s not like bills are hard to pay. In most cases, you can simply mail a cheque, pick up a phone, or crank up your PC.
But remember, this is China we’re talking about, where the practice of mailing personal cheques isn’t well-established. If you want to pay a bill you go to the bank, where, according to the article, you stand in line for about 45 minutes. Worse, you must often pay different bills at different locations or banks. Suddenly, a kiosk that lets you pay most of your bills from a single location looks really good.
Both the AXS Station and the PAY1 use the QNX Neutrino RTOS, primarily because “it is very stable and able to handle millions of accounts.” But reliability wasn’t the only criterion. Ease of use is key to the success of self-service kiosks, so both systems also take advantage of QNX’s advanced graphics technologies, which are designed to support a rich user experience without gobbling up scads of memory.