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Modular I/O Design Brings Flexibility to Kiosk Integration

2016/05/29

For applications such as kiosks, vending machines, or traffic apps that need to connect with multiple peripheral devices, some of which may still use serial data interfaces, Advantech ARK-plus modules and iDoor modules are excellent options, as they provide rich I/O connectors with excellent data handling abilities, networking connection capabilities and peripheral support.

Introduction

Self-service kiosks have become part of our daily lives in various applications such as beverage and snack vending machines, airline, rail, and mass transit ticketing, parking fee collections, bicycle rental systems, etc. These well-designed kiosks with user friendly interactive interfaces are integrated with touch monitors and many inputs, outputs and control devices, usually housed in stylish enclosures that offer convenient services without requiring a lot of manpower. A reliable box computer with versatile I/O connectivity is usually the core of such a system. It connects all the devices, and controls them as a seamless solution by running application software developed by a System Integrator with deep domain knowhow.

Application Requirements

For a System Integrator, customization can be challenging. An additional card reader, camera or receipt printer can lead to a long development cycle because space inside the kiosk is limited. I/O ports to connect these devices can be another big problem because it can require finding another box computer with more I/O connectivity. Then software compatibility and reliability with the new box computer need to be re-verified to make sure the new box computer will work as well with all the peripherals and application software as the old one did.This process usually takes three months or even more, depending on the system complexity. This time-consuming verification process can become a business barrier; overcoming it is a field worthy of investigation.

The best approach in such cases is to add the new I/O directly to the original box computer, then perform incremental verification for the newly added functionalities. This can shorten the verification time substantially, assuming that the box computer can handle the new I/O. But most box computers on the market have fixed I/O designs, and customizing I/Os is often more difficult than expected.

System Solution

ARK-2230 is a modular-design embedded system that supports two kinds of I/O add-ons: iDoor modules and ARK-Plus modules.

iDoor modules are very compact and can easily be installed into the ARK-2230. We have a full selection of iDoor modules,including GbE, CANBus, RS232/422/485, USB, printer port and other industrial I/O functionality. System Integrator can select the right iDoor for the job, and verification can focus on iDoor and its connecteddevices. Each ARK-2230 can install one iDoor module with no dimensional changes.

For those cases where one compact iDoor cannot fill the bill, ARK-Plus can step in to offer more I/O expansions. ARK-Plus is a stackable, add-on module for ARK-2230 with an Advantech proprietary MIOe interface. The MIOe interface carries serval types of high speed communication buses, which can support more I/Os than a single iDoor module. Moreover, its slim enclosure can also provide aremovable 2.5” drive bay. The System Integrator can install one iDoor and one ARK-Plus module in an ARK-2230 box computer at the same time. So the modular ARK-2230 can support more than one hundred different I/O combinations, while remaining quite compact in size.

Benefit

  • Full selections of ready-to-use iDoor and ARK-Plus modules provide high flexibility for system integration
  • Easy and efficient incremental development and verification
  • Customization process reduces time requirement from months to weeks
  • Assembly can be done either by System Integrator or via Advantech global CTOS service with optimized lead time support