When thinking about applications of the Internet, kiosks are probably not the first thing that come to mind. But Phoenixville resident Robert Bolton's company, Newton Software Solutions, has proven that kiosks are a marketable technology.
This week, they are being featured as the Business of the Week at the Reading branch of Sovereign Bank, with a demonstration kiosk on site.
Newton Software Solutions took shape in 2006, when Bolton, vice president and chief software architect, and his business partner Richard D. Newstein, general manager, went live with their products.
"Primarily we're a kiosk solutions provider, but we also do digital signage," Bolton said.
The kiosks, called Touch N' Go Maps, have already sold to Drexel University, and been piloted at the Chester County Government Services Center.
The county is considering outfitting the new Justice Center in downtown West Chester with the
kiosks. "The pilot showed a very positive response," Bolton said.
Newton Software Solution's main target, for the moment, is universities. Connecting to the kiosks at Drexel remotely from his home office in Phoenixville, Bolton explained the features of his program.
"First and foremost, they're for finding your way around campus," Bolton said. The kiosks display maps of the campus, which allow users to search for a building, then display on-screen directions and a photograph.
In addition, the Drexel kiosks display a list of on-campus activities and their locations.
The touch screen also helps students navigate Philadelphia. "On the kiosks, you can have the campus transit schedules, you can have SEPTA's public transportation schedules, you can have the metro map," Bolton said.
Bolton and Newstein added a security feature in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy.
"The emergency feature takes the kiosk out of the wayfinding mode, its normal mode, and makes the screen red and shows a map of where the emergency's at," Bolton said.
A pre-recorded message can be activated at the same time, explaining what or where the emergency is.
"Unlike text messaging [one option for informing students of emergencies], this is instantaneous," Bolton said.
The company has been working on name recognition by attending campus security conventions. "We want to be the kiosk people," Bolton said.
The kiosks themselves run for $6,000 to $11,000, depending on whether they are indoor or outdoor, and the size of the screen. Programming, installation, and maintenance are separate.
"We work with other companies to provide installation and maintenance," Bolton said.
Bolton himself never attended college. "All of this is self-taught. I've been in IT professionally for 10 years," he said.
"I've always loved programming," Bolton explained. In 1995, he created the first Web site for the Colonial School District. "I had a little article in the Times Herald, so everybody in town could know how much of a nerd I was," he said.
Bolton and his wife moved to Phoenixville because it "seems like it's going through a revitalization period."
"We thought we would have a good investment if we bought in Phoenixville," he said.
Now, Bolton would like to give back to the community. "Even though we're based in Reading, my home office is based in Phoenixville, and it would be nice to give back to Phoenixville a little by offering discounts on our systems and services," Bolton said.
For more information, visit http://www.newtonsoftwaresolutions.com