New York - Kodak has started rolling out a major software upgrade to its 100,000 photo-printing kiosks that will deliver direct contact to social media sites.
The software was originally announced earlier this year at the PMA Show. The rollout will take place over the next few months as stores are checked to ensure their Internet capability is up to the task.
The kiosks will now allow customers, particularly their primary target women, to directly access the photos on their Facebook pages or their Kodak Gallery or Picasa accounts, said Scott Robinson, Kodak's product marketing manager, worldwide kiosk marketing.
About 3.5 billion photos are uploaded every month by Facebook's 400 million users worldwide, Robinson said.
By giving access to Facebook through the kiosks, a customer can make a print even if he forgot his USB drive or CD, he said.
Icons for the three sites pop up on the screen as one of the print options. When pressed, the customer is asked to sign into his Facebook page. The kiosk then finds and displays the photos stored on the site. It does not bring up the primary Facebook site, so all of the person's private information is not revealed.
The software offers two viewing options, by date or album, so the user can quickly drill down to the photos needed. Since Facebook does not store the photos in their original resolution, the software warns the customer if the photo chosen is printable, Robinson said.
He added that Facebook has recently increased the size of the photos to 720 pixels wide, up from about 600, so more photos will be available for printing. This will not only make more photos print ready, but it enables the photos to be used in a variety of other products, such as collages, slideshows and printed albums.
Retailers are anxious for this capability since the vast majority of customers simply make 4-inch by 6-inch prints, and retailer can generate additional profit by up-selling them to these other products, Robinson said.
Retailers should also like that these upgrades are being made available without any capital expenditure on their part.
A similar situation takes place with Picasa and Kodak Gallery.
Other software improvements include additional photo-editing capability. This includes the ability to view and take captures of digital video. When the content is connected to the kiosk, it shows up on the screen and allows the users to scroll through to the point where they would like to grab a still image for printing.
There is also new facial-retouch ability, allowing users to eliminate skin blemishes by just touching the area.
The last editing trick is called Pet Eye Retouch. Robinson said Kodak's focus groups found people were anxious to fix the red eye that forms when photos are taken of their pets. For several technical reasons, normal red-eye reduction software cannot work on an animal, so Kodak allows the user to go in and manually eliminated the problem.
Robinson said all of these features are prominently displayed on the kiosk's screen so users will know they are available.