Tuesday 10 October 2023

Kiosk – The Nuts and Bolts and Woodscrews

The challenge – how do you make an app on a tablet computer available to several hundred people daily without them breaking it, stealing it, powering it off, switching it to another app?

The solution – inexpensive hardware and software, and woodscrews.

The venue for Chichester Harbour Race Week with its near 400 competitors is Hayling Island Sailing Club. HISC, like many a club, has a traditional outdoor wooden notice board. Originally the official notice board, but now largely superseded by online equivalents, it is remains the home of paper signing sheets.

That was clearly the place for two tablets – one for each race group.

We used Lenovo Tab M10s – 10 inch tablets running Android 11: good quality, reasonably priced and, importantly, with plenty of battery power. We installed Kiosk Browser, a mobile device manager, to run the eTally Kiosk app in Chrome.  Kiosk Browser hides most (though not quite all) Chrome and Android functions from inquisitive tappers. We applied screen protectors – thin sheets of glass – to both devices.

Connectivity came via a MiFi device in a box in an adjacent indoor area which just happened to be the snack bar.

We screwed a pair of security wall mounts to the notice board adjacent to where the paper signing sheets go.

A tablet powered on, clamped in position and ready for customers.


We’d previously briefed all competitors by email. We sat back and waited.

They took to it like the proverbial ducks to water!

I don’t know who these two gentlemen are but thank you, you look the part.

Was it perfection all the way? Not quite!

The card taped to the top of each tablet not only tells people which to use but also prevents them pulling down the Android settings and causing havoc.

The tablets on/off button needed a couple of millimetres headroom under the security clamps. One enthusiastic tapper managed to slide a tablet up enough to power it off.

A more strict implementation of Kiosk Browser will fix both of those issues.

Finally, the call went out that neither tablet was working. On investigation this was because they weren’t connected to the internet. You remember that the connectivity came via the snack bar? It turned out that someone had, entirely innocently, placed a tray of Coke cans on top of the box of tricks. Problem soon resolved!

So overall, a great success. Lessons were learned, the main one being that eTally Kiosk is a valuable addition to the SailEvent safety portfolio.

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