Kinect Banking with ETRONIKA

December 12, 2012

Gamification as a concept is spreading fast nowadays. Gamification is the process of implementing game mechanisms into non-game origin applications in order to motivate and positively influence the customer involvement. With the boosted inclusion and the enhanced user experience a high level of loyalty can be achieved, which is what every company needs.

With their Kinect motion sensing input device, Microsoft® can almost 3D integrate the human being into a game. How could anything be more playful than the human body itself carrying out all the movements required to play, without the need of any game controllers. Could this solution also be integrated into non-game origin applications to achieve the desired Gamification?

Yes, it can be integrated! The solution provider Lithuanian ETRONIKA offers an online banking solution alloyed with game power using Microsoft® Kinect. The invention enables us to bank online by moving our hands and using our voice commands. Read an interview with Kęstutis Gardžiulis, CEO of ETRONIKA, to get a bigger picture about this outstanding solution and to get a glimpse of where internet banking might be heading.

Dear Kęstutis, could you please tell me what the basic idea was?

The basic idea behind Natural User Interface based online banking is simplicity and comfort. But let’s start from beginning. For 30 years the triumvirate of the mouse, keyboard and physical buttons has ruled. Then came out touch-screens and the new era began. People like to touch, because touch gesture is more natural. That’s why tablet sales are increasing. That’s why even older people prefer smartphones with touch-screens. First computer wasn’t created for home use and wasn’t fitted for all of us. You had to learn how to communicate with them if you had a chance to own one. Over time communication has become easier and even a little more intuitive, but still – there is a big learning curve. So what is better than a touching a screen and requires less training? Your guess is right – speaking and gesturing. Motion, face and voice recognition – all of them are parts of an emerging concept in human-computer interaction, called Natural User Interface (or NUI). We didn’t invented NUI, there has been pioneering work from many others, but we sow the future in it – a finance management system which doesn’t require learning.

If you look around, you will notice that from consumers to businesses, from children to adults of all ages, the world is transitioning from offline to online faster and faster every day. Digitalization has become the part of your life even if you completely ignore ‘online’ content, because you use all the technology around you. But there is something you can’t ignore – your finances. Financial institutions have been one of the beneficiaries of the agile advancements in technology in the last five decades or so. By incorporating newest technologies in their production models, the achieved results were dramatic: new products, new customers and new markets. Financial institutions became a serious, unshakable, and respectable realm. And that’s the problem. First – some people don’t know how to live in the modern world of technology and feels left out. Second – banks ceased to be innovative, because majority of their clients isn’t tech-savvy and don’t use online or mobile banking because it’s too hard for them.

So, back to basic idea – if you can create online banking solution with NUI in mind, that solution wouldn’t require any kind of training. ETRONIKA wanted to become the first company in the world to introduced NUI based online banking experience. So we did just that. We re-imagined and re-engineered online banking user experience with simplicity and NUI in mind to solve the problems I mentioned above. User requires only 1 minute training to learn how to interact with the system and that’s it! Our solution today uses Microsoft® KinectTM, but after few years every TV set, every new tablet, smartphone or laptop will have some kind of ‘kinect’ sensor integrated. The world is slowly moving towards NUI and that’s definitely the future.

Wow! That is what I call innovation and mind-boggling idea. However, NUI based online banking experience isn’t quite common. Who is your target audience? Maybe you’re focusing on youth banking?

We did some research and surveys. Our solution is more natural and acceptable for people who aren’t tech-savvy and don’t use computers daily. Maybe it’s too early for them to use this at home, but we can easily deploy and create some kind of terminals or cabins in the bank branches. The second part of the target audience is the early adopters who want to have smart online banking at home without PC’s and do finance management in front of TV screen using voice & gestures.

I see, but could you tell me what are the benefits comparing with normal online banking solutions?

More and more customers today expecting banks and financial institutions can be contacted at any time, and day, in the simplest way. If you think that traditional online banking with keyboard and mouse is comfortable, just think about how much time you can save if you simply say: “transfer $500 to my mom, then add the rest of my payment to savings, and inform me when I will have extra $750, so I can buy a guitar I always wanted“. Second and the best part – you don’t need to identify yourself, because our solution recognized you even some time before you thought about the payment. Isn’t that great? We can recognize each other by face or the sound of our voice; we do not require any passwords in life. So does our NUI application, which mirrors human identification by analyzing user’s face and voice with pure comfort and simplicity. For additional security reasons (if required by bank or the user) we can add verification by phone using wireless PKI. We build our solution not only with the user experience in mind, but with security as well.

These are strong arguments, but what are the people say? Is there any user experience feedback?

We had great feedback about our product. Also international media received the solution very well. We had well known media like Wired, Engadget or PC Magazine visited our stand in CTIA. We were invited to participate in finance conference event FinovateEurope 2012. Even The New York Times magazine mentioned us! You can find more about mentions in media at our website.

Cool! Can I call my bank that I would like to banking online with my Microsoft® KinectTM, so is it in production or when it will be available?

We can’t speak about exact launch dates or details. We are in negotiations and discussions with few banks. From our end – everything is ready; solution is fully working and can be easily integrated with any existing bank system. Economic recessions still isn’t completely gone, so everybody has to think twice about investment plans, and banks are really slow decision making organisms.

Are you planning some future developments?

Currently we are working to improve user experience even more as well as try to sophisticate voice and gesture recognition algorithms.

Are you in for the sciences too?

ETRONIKA did research to identify most simple gestures for the user; research for the best way to track person in front of KinectTM sensors; research about security and many others things.

Thank you very much dear Kęstutis. It was a very detailed and truly comprehensive introduction about your innovative product. I would like to wish great success for the future to ETRONIKA.

We can see that cyber technology already knocking on our doors, the question is do we let it in or wait more?