Augmented Reality Eyewear – Three Uses for Financial Services

by on Apr 16, 2012

altThe recent unveiling of Google’s augmented reality eyewear project (called “Project Glass”) and its accompanying video have sparked a lot of conversation about the future of communication and technology.  With the potential for seamless integration between the visual world and information technology, how would our interactions with people, goods, and the physical world around us change? 

These questions have led us here at Corporate Insight to explore how financial firms could utilize this technology.  Judging by financial firms’ current app offerings, integration with augmented reality eyewear isn’t as far-fetched or far off as it would seem. Here are three ways financial services firms can use augmented reality eyewear to better serve their clients:

Virtual Locators
Many apps made available by financial firms (specifically banks and brokerage firms) offer users the ability to find the nearest branch or ATM to your current location via the phone’s GPS system.  If you want directions, clicking the address will open the phone’s navigation system and provide turn-by-turn guidance.  This functionality is naturally transferrable to augmented reality eyewear. If navigation works as it was shown in the Project Glass video, a heads up display would provide users with virtual turn-by-turn directions that appear as if they are in physical space. 


Information in Virtual Space
TD Ameritrade’s SnapStock app already uses augmented reality principles. In our SnapStock review earlier this year, we explained how after users take a picture of a product’s barcode the app instantly provides stock information about the associated company.  Using the app with augmented reality eyewear would allow users to scan multiple items around them and receive a large array of information at once.  A simple look at a specific item could potentially offer additional detail on the item of choice. 

Rethinking Purchases and Rewards Redemption
Banks and credit card firms could utilize this technology to revolutionize purchasing and reward redemptions. What if completing a purchase was as simple as taking a picture of an item’s barcode or QR Code, then paying for it with a linked account. For example, users could buy tickets to a concert on a subway car using a QR code from a promotional poster.  By having their banking app enabled, the user could see details such as the ticket price, current balance, and with social media integration, others who have purchased the item.  For rewards, a similar app could show items in the area that can be redeemed with reward points and offer the aforementioned functionality to complete the redemption.


Closing Thoughts
Augmented reality hardware may still be at least eighteen months away from being ready for consumer use; however the software is essentially in place.  The display placed in front of the user will not be much different than the information currently displayed by apps like Layar or Google Googles. The key difference is that augmented reality eyewear runs continuously and hands-free, allowing users constant, intimate interaction with their surroundings. From the perspective of financial services firms, what would be more convenient for customers than allowing them to find and use your services in a blink on an eye?