Virtual Reality Banking

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26 Jun 2015

Posted in:  AIB News

Welcome to AIB Innovation’s new blog. We’re a team of engineers and data scientists, tasked with researching and developing new and innovative products and services for our Customers. On this blog we’ll be posting regularly about our work so please feel free to comment on any of our posts, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Recently, we’ve been looking into Virtual Reality to see if it can be of use to AIB or our customers. Some of our colleagues may think we’re just playing but it’s actually serious work….most of the time!

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) is basically any platform that creates a virtual environment for you to experience via your senses, primarily through sight and sound. The Oculus Rift (not yet available for consumers) is probably the best-known example – a large headset that covers your eyes and provides the ability to immerse yourself in a whole host of 3D virtual environments. The experiences already created include virtual rollercoasters, space shooting games and tours of virtual museums.

What Virtual Reality devices are available?

We’ve tested the Oculus (Development Kit 1) and it’s an amazing, if occasionally disconcerting, experience. Motion sickness is a possible side-effect of virtual reality because sometimes your brain thinks you’re doing one thing while your body thinks it’s doing another. We could feel the effects of this, even on some of the simple apps. The experience though of being immersed in a different environment, while sitting at your desk somewhere else entirely, is both different and fun.

We also have a much simpler VR device, a Google Cardboard which is a device made mainly out of cardboard with two lenses included for the VR to work. We picked up ours on eBay for 20 dollars, but there are cheaper. While the Oculus comes with a built in screen, when it comes to the Cardboard you push a smartphone into the device and that functions as the screen. Simply download a VR capable app and off you go.

We love the Cardboard because it’s so simple but effective. The Dive City Coaster App (a roller coaster) is fantastic and you’ll feel dizzy if using it for too long!

Virtual and augmented reality; what’s the difference?

Augmented Reality is displaying virtual objects within the real world, as oppose to Virtual where the user only sees the virtual environment.

So, why are AIB looking into Virtual Reality?

We’re interested in anything that could be potentially useful for our Customers. The last 10 years has seen the meteoric growth of smartphones and the accompanying apps. Hundreds of thousands of our Customers now use AIB Mobile Banking App and AIB Tablet Banking App. Likewise, wearable technology is now beginning to grow with the release of the Apple Watch and Android Wear and we expect to see consumers using banking services on watches soon. To read more about our research into wearable technology, check out our blog on 'Wearable Banking: How Smart is Your Watch?'.

VR is a new platform for our Customers that potentially could be successful. There are several companies developing devices, from the ones mentioned above to other players in the market like Sony’s Project Morpheus or Valve’s SteamVR, so there will be a range available to consumers. The main use case so far is gaming and entertainment – either playing immersive games or watching music videos or feature films in a way that hasn’t been done before.

We’d see possible banking uses being a virtual branch, where Customers can visit an AIB branch from the comfort of their home and talk to a virtual advisor, access their finances and make transfers. VR also brings the possibility of showing Customers their finances in non two-dimensional format. We’re all used to seeing our money in lists of credits and debits but perhaps we could build a virtual three-dimensional view of a current account that shows in a more tangible way the different volumes, incomings and outgoings of money. This may lead to a better understanding of how and where your money is spent and saved, leading to improved handling and planning of your finances.

As this is all speculation however, please don’t go looking for an AIB VR app just yet! It’s something we feel is worth investigating though so watch this space. What do you think? Please let us know in the comments below and feel free to share this post. Until next time folks!

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