It may be a fad but it’s endured, a craze that has swept the globe, with a reported 100 million catching Pokémon monsters through their smartphones. It is fascinating to see otherwise sensible people walking the streets catching figures which are actually imaginary.
"Among those young Pokémon catchers are the executives of the future."
Joo Kim Bullock, BlueNotes contributing editor
The app, while not true augmented reality (AR), has fuelled the general public’s interest in all things AR (with true AR and smart glasses users can see additional images projected in their surroundings).
For business, the important takeaway is among those young Pokémon catchers are the executives – and importantly, customers - of the future, who will bring their expectations of augmented reality and how it works into the market and workplace.
Imagine a corporate office with executives wearing smart glasses, calling up analytics at will and viewing digital information at a glance. Imagine these spectacles being used to share presentations at a conference or take notes digitally. Managers could soon be approving expenses on the Go.
The hype around AR’s business applications is growing as fast as the technology, with many experts already expecting it to change the way people shop. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called AR a “core technology” for the company, indicating the importance the world's largest tech group places on its development.
Banks are already exploring such technology and how it can be applied, collaborating with AR tech companies to experiment and test concepts.
With the introduction of any technology, banks soon realise the applications – it did not take long for banks to realise the potential of mobile banking and vie to be the first to market as digital and mobile innovators.
Earlier this year, ANZ became the first Australian bank to offer Apple Pay to its customers and followed up months later with Android Pay. Which bank and corporate will be the first to introduce and use AR technology in the market and pave the way for the rest?
The interface by which customers access information is changing and has gradually evolved from the desktop, to laptop, to smartphone and tablet and soon things like smart glasses.
With augmented reality the device will be more personal and could be attached to the person as a headset or pair of glasses, controlled by biometrics like a voice command or the blink of an eye.
The opportunities for AR and banking are in the visualisation of data and also how customers communicate with their bank. Executives on the go may use smart glasses instead of a smartphone to monitor their company’s cash exposure, capture information or to approve payments.
If additional information is required, instead of an email or phone call, a voice command to the smart glasses of ‘branch1report.exl’ may be all that’s needed to update analytics in real time.
Before letting our imagination run away with us, consideration needs to be first given to resolving data quality. In the corporate world, however state-of-the art any banking application is, the initial enthusiasm will be dampened if data quality does not meet expectations.
This data quality challenge - bringing intelligence into digital data - could first be addressed by collaboration between traditional banks and fintechs before moving onto developing a full-scale AR application.
Another sombre thought – how will various jurisdictions deal with security and the sharing of data this way? There are security concerns about people wearing smart glasses, recording images and conversations, with many fearing the technology would have a sinister side.
From the public’s perspective, using mobile phones is banned while driving – it’s likely so too would be smart glasses.
The vision for the future treasurer is AR and smart glasses will become part of their daily working life. With smart glasses, an executive in theory could call up any information they need at any time.
They could keep an eye on their messages, incoming payments and stock prices, all while conducting meetings at the same time.
Perhaps more importantly, on the way home in their smart cars, the executive could then review their end-of-day balance reports while at the same time catching Pokémon to wind down.
Joo Kim Bullock is in Transaction Banking at ANZ