The perceived problem about introducing more tech into any industry is that too much technology means too little human interaction. That, combined with concerns over privacy and security, may offer little consumer comfort in a world in which services are increasingly delivered via a variety of Internet-enabled endpoints.
But there’s technology and then there’s technology that has the ability to immerse the consumer in an experience that is as valuable – and maybe even more so – than what can be delivered by a human being. It’s that experience that Intel’s RealSense technology is set on delivering via sophisticated camera technology that has the ability to “see” just like a human eye, and then react based on what it “sees.” The use cases that Intel imagines can be transformed with this technology are what you might otherwise imagine: gaming, VR, and robotics.
But the one place that it believes it can be most transformative is in the banking and financial services space – and not for the reasons you might imagine. Rather than use RealSense to recreate a VR banking experience, Shailesh Chaudhry, Director of Business Strategy IoT Group at Intel, tells Karen Webster that it has the power to authenticate the consumer in new and very precise ways.
Here’s a look under the hood and an overview of what’s in it for the FI and their customers.
WEBSTER: RealSense is a very interesting technology. I’m very anxious to talk about its application to banking, because I’m trying to understand how it fits – it doesn’t jump right out at me.
CHAUDHRY: RealSense is about making our interactions with what I call computer devices much more natural and intuitive. If you really go back to the days of the computer device and keyboard and mice, things have not really changed much. At some point we then started to see other interaction technologies like speech, gestures, touch – and those were all good innovations and close to natural, but I still wouldn’t consider them humanlike interaction. I call these capabilities single motor interactions.
RealSense is really about how to interact with devices to make them more like humans.
Why? Because it’s not really how humans interact with each other. Right now, you and I are talking using speech, we look at each other’s faces for expressions and body languages. We’re using all of our senses simultaneously and that is how we really communicate.
So our goal with RealSense was to enable that capability to devices. RealSense is really about how to interact with devices to make them more like humans.
WEBSTER: Got is. So RealSense is a technology platform, but it’s really engineered around a camera, correct?
CHAUDHRY: It’s a platform, so there are multiple cameras. Depending on certain capabilities you might need to shoot from a longer range. Or for certain ones you might need to shoot from a shorter range. The commonality is a common API that sets on top of these cameras and which is how we expose multiple capabilities all to one API. That’s a great value proposition, because now they don’t have to worry about a particular interaction. I can use all of them or switch in between.
WEBSTER: I can imagine the application for a diverse set of environments. Gaming, of course, comes to mind, videoconferencing comes to mind, chatting comes to mind. But how are you wrapping all of this together to really enrich the digital banking experience?
CHAUDHRY: Let’s take an example of an ATM. Fraud and security is a big issue and we now are pretty much limited to using PIN codes to prevent fraud. Multi-factor authentication is, of course, what everyone is talking about.
If you look at the some of the most commonly used second factors, those are either an iris scan or a fingerprint. But what is the most common signature of anyone? Their face. Speech is the same way. It’s unique to people.
This is where RealSense comes in — as a second set of authentication. Our platform enables 3-D facial recognition, which makes it fraud proof. Then you can pair it with speech as well.
WEBSTER: If banks embrace this technology, would we have to register our face within the app that the bank offers? How would it work on the customer side of things?
CHAUDHRY: Yes, the first time the consumer has to “introduce” themselves to a device, I see that process happening. They would have to register yourself, your face, your speech, whatever signature we want it to be. After that is done, there’s really no effort or learning required for consumers. The user becomes their own credential. We are our own signature.
WEBSTER: What kind of devices would support the RealSense platform? Would I have to have a particular computer or smartphone to enable the real sense platform?
CHAUDHRY: At the core it’s not so much about a device that the platform is tied to. It can go on any device. It’s more about the platform. It works with what I call a typical computing platform. Anywhere you are using a microprocessor, you can pair our RealSense technology with it. That could be a laptop, or a tablet, but it could be an ATM as well. Or it could be a banking kiosk. As more and more of these banking devices are getting smarter, you can start connecting them to the Internet and RealSense is a fast follower since we can go enable that platform as well.
WEBSTER: How do the financial institutions that you’ve talked to about this envision using it? It does sound like there could be many use cases that this could be applied for a variety of reasons — fraud, security, customer services, etc.
CHAUDHRY: We are working on two engagements. One of them is on multi-factor authentication and we are working with a bank directly on the multi-sector authentication and the use case. The other one is in financial inclusion and determining how we expand the reach of banks and branches into remote areas. The capabilities in the RealSense platform is very well suited for banking.
WEBSTER: I can imagine the application of this platform to other environments, including health care, where the ability to have a telepresence is recognizable to the individual so that doctors can be prescribing the right things.
CHAUDHRY: We’re seeing a wide variety of applications. Health care is one. In retail, we are seeing a lot of different applications. They spend a lot in general understanding the consumer behavior, and learning more about consumers, without invading their privacy. With the RealSense platform it’s about the computer vision and sensors built into it.
WEBSTER: When you think about places where safety can be compromised I think about money being taken out of an ATM. Is the RealSense platform sophisticated enough to recognize that someone is doing that under distress?
CHAUDHRY: That is another use case as that came up in Latin America, Asia and India. It will, using facial recognition, recognize that you are in distress and send a signal and an alert in a discreet way so that the people standing there won’t even know it has been sent. That way, the person who might be threatening you wouldn’t know that the alert has already gone in, and before they know it the police are there to assist.
WEBSTER: I think that’s a real interesting consumer selling point. And clearly the financial institution would find that very valuable. But as we know, consumers always decide how these things go, as we know. How long does it take for a financial institution to integrate RealSense into their system?
CHAUDHRY: That’s a really long lead time. These systems are really robust and they have to be secure since they aren’t standalone –and that’s not just unique to banking. That applies to any of those industrial and commercial systems. We can always do the quick demonstration and show that it works. The hard part is integrating that with the rest of the system. In case of the bank, it has to connect back to the full banking system. It has to really make sure that all of the data is protected as it’s going through the network because the authentication is going to happen through the cloud, not just on the device.
After all, as Webster points out in the conclusion of their conversation, security of information and the privacy and details are obviously very important and need to be factored into the mix — and carefully. Moreover, this tech is all about eliminating the friction in so many dimensions of where consumers interact with relying parties.
Which is RealSense, as shown above, has the possibility to innovate the banking space.
Editor’s Note: Portions of the above Q&A have been edited for clarity.