Photo-Me booths hit the Web - curtains n' all

Photo-Me booths -- famous for their adjustable stools and orange curtain backdrops -- are going high tech with multimedia services including e-mail and Internet access it was announced Monday.

Photo-Me is teaming up with BT to give the majority of the 4,300 booths in airports, railway stations and supermarkets across the UK a refit. The new look kiosks will retain the same look -- complete with curtains -- but inside users will have use of a screen and keyboard linked to the Web. A flat screen on the outside of the booth will carry adverts.

BT will provide network services and be responsible for the content and operation of multi-media. John Swingewood, director of BT Internet and multimedia services said: "It will provide everyone in the UK with the opportunity to go and try the Internet for themselves, regardless of whether they have access to a PC."

As well as being able to surf the Net, send and retrieve email users will also be able to create their own Web site and plug in digital cameras for printing out or e-mailing photos.

The high-tech booths will take coins and have a smartcard reader. All of Photo-Me's original products, including ID photos, customised postcards and business cards, will still be available.

The first booths will be installed by the end of the year.